Before the years are gone and I've lost my nerve...

'Cause this is what I've waited for..



Monday, December 31, 2007

Undeniably Mommy....

I don't know exactly when the switch flipped, but the nightmares have stopped. For weeks after Jeremiah's arrival I had recurring dreams involving Marisol (the birth mother) and a perpetual feeling of invalidation. They wouldn't be exactly the same dream, but more of a recurring theme where Jeremiah was crying and suddenly Marisol would walk in, pick him up and he would instantly calm. I would look at the way they were interacting and feel incredibly resigned, thinking, "Well, of course he'd respond to her like that........" I would wake up ready to sob, struggling to identify myself as Jeremiah's mother.......no, Jeremiah's REAL mother. Years upon years of keeping my dream of motherhood at bay resulted in weeks of this battle in my heart. My old tendencies wanted to remain guarded, ready for heartbreak, but life was not slipping away from me. Jeremiah was (and is, obviously) HERE and the only mother he knows, and will ever know, is ME. You'd think I'd just be ready to throw away how I used to live and think but it wasn't quite that easy. I basically had to give myself permission to love uninhibitedly, vulnerable and raw.



Sometimes I would wonder as I held him if he would be the same if Marisol had kept him. Would he cry the same way? Would his voice sound different? Would he smile as much? I honestly don't know why these things would ever enter my mind.......but they did, and as much as it hurt to even think them I couldn't deny my curiosity.



All of that has ended, thank God, and there is no denying who's Mommy around here. The other day as I was getting Jeremiah dressed in his pajamas he started kicking his legs, cooing so loudly that I started to giggle. He caught my eye and smiled so big, and got even more excited as he talked. There was so much undeniable joy in his face when he looked at me that I started to weep.......... "Ohhhhhh.......THIS!" I thought to myself, "THIS is what I've waited for.."

Like I said before, I don't know when the switch flipped but I'm just grateful it did. I'm still in as great a journey to trust as ever before. Trying to stay at home as much as possible and still pay for all our expenses is proving to be an extremely difficult task. I don't know why I thought we'd get a respite after Jeremiah arrived and maybe what this is revealing about me is that my mind will always be festering about something. How annoying.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

4 weeks already


I think I've just entered into that time in life where you don't want to ever blink. Time moves too fast. Jeremiah is a month old!

I must have exceeded the word limit on my last entry (I had written all about the time at the hospital and it got bumped off the site....grrrrr!), so I've been wondering how best to fill in the gaps but not bore with details.

The last thing I want to do is lose the awe of what has happened, to callous myself to the story because of the monotony of life. But life has a way of just sucking out the extraordinary.......if you let it. These last few weeks have been surreal, but challenging as emotions surfaced I wasn't prepared for.

Because we had to wait for such a long time I placed such anticipation on the fulfillment I would receive. True, the desire is fulfilled, but I also believed that my seven years of waiting stored up all the caretaking energy I would need. Not so much. I told myself that I would never complain; it didn't matter how tired I was or how many times during the night I woke up, I would love every single second of it. Did I somehow believe that I would no longer be human once becoming a mother? That whole never-complaining thing lasted for all of 4 days! I am loving every second of it, but I am being challenged every second of it as well.

We are now out of the 'legal risk' period. Marisol's parental rights were legally terminated over a week ago, and now the birth father registry has to be checked to see if Jeremiah's birth father has listed himself on it. It would mean that we would have to go through the process of terminating those rights as well. If he is not listed, then we are completely in the clear and can start the finalization process, which typically takes about 3 months in the state of Minnesota. These are just formalities for us because we have absolutely no worries about any hurdles from this point on. God's made sure to communicate that to us.

A few weeks back I attended a prayer service at church where our pastor read the passage of scripture we would be praying through. It was Ephesians 3:14-21, which has special significance to me. It is Paul's prayer for the church in Ephesus, but became my prayer as Lee and I struggled in ministry and started our infertility voyage all those years ago.
"When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he would give you mighty inner strength through his holy spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now Glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever through endless ages. Amen." (NLT)

As I sat in church reading and praying God said, "See, Tiffany? Don't you see now what I was doing?" The message could have been, "You ungrateful child, are you happy now?"
But there was grace where there could have been judgment.

Out of God's love for me, for Lee, and especially for Jeremiah we have become this ever-anticipated family. I wish I had waited better. All those years of praying and weeping and questioning why God would allow us to suffer through such tender disappointment resulted in an incredible outpouring that was infinitely more than we ever could have hoped. Can I ever again doubt God's love for me? I keep remembering a comment my mom made to me several times over the last few years when I would watch God bless other people while I suffered. "Tiffany, do you think God loves you any less than He loves them?"


That's true for all of us, regardless of the struggle.

"'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11


Saturday, October 20, 2007

The whole story.

I've wondered a million times about the best way to tell this story, but I think what's best is to just start and hope that the pieces fall into place along the way. I'm going to back up to about mid-July, when we were in process of waiting on a birth mother from California to decide if she indeed wanted us to adopt her baby. While that opportunity was still lingering we received a phone call from my mom one evening after she had returned home from work, and I could tell by the apprehension in her voice that she had some trepidation about what she was going to say. She had heard about another young girl who was pregnant and didn't plan to keep the baby. Would this be something we would at all be interested in pursuing? My response was not positive. It was more like, "Are you kidding me? I'm sick and tired of hearing about these girls, when none of them are actually serious about going through with it." I did not want to tell Lee. I remember looking over at him after I hung up with my mom, feeling this weight in my stomach thinking, 'Can I put him through this conversation again? How much can we take?'

"What now?" Lee asked me. ( I think he already knew what was up by the look on my face).

"You don't want to know," I replied.

"Well?"

So I began to tell him what my mom had told me. By the end of the story both of us were stinking MAD. We were trying not to lump every birth mother into a heaping pile of indecision, unstability, and mistrust but disappointment after disappointment can give every girl the same face, the same story, the same heart and we were done.

Our conversation was filled with comments like, "Something just doesn't seem right about this one," and, "Of all the options this one seems the LEAST likely to happen", and, "What's this girl's angle? What does she want?" We ranted, we did a little yelling, but as loud as we voiced our skepticism I could not shake this voice that said, "But what IF? What if this IS the one that works?"

"Quiet!" I remember thinking, "I don't want to wonder!" But it wouldn't go away, and quietly I whispered the 'what if' to Lee. I'd like to say that we came to a wonderful conclusion to trust God and venture once again into the uncertain realm of birth mother conversations, but we blew it off. Not completely, but we didn't entirely embrace the possibility either. We just didn't think about it. For weeks. We thought so little of it that I enrolled for classes through December and scheduled a roofing company to come replace our roof (turns out we had hail damage and only had to pay the deductible -praise God!). So when we got the call that the California situation was closed for us we threw this one out the window as well.

I had just finished the last day of my first week of classes, went out to the truck to head for home and noticed that my mom had tried to call my cell phone like 500 times. When I called her back she sounded a little excited. "I just met Marisol," she told me.

"What?"

"Yeah, Cristina brought her into the clinic today and they're wondering whether or not we're going to do this adoption!"

"Wait.....what?!?"

"Marisol would like to meet you. I did pull up your blog site so she could at least see your picture, but how soon do you think you could come down to the cities to meet?"

"What?!?" ( I know, a bit redundant, but I was a little shocked. After all, hadn't this one seemed the LEAST likely to happen?)

After I stammered out a few unintelligible things we decided to try to meet on Monday, Labor Day. I didn't have classes, and most people (minus Lee) wouldn't be working. My mom confirmed with Cristina that it would indeed work for them and there we were, set to meet.

I drove down to the cities on Monday morning, but before I left had that great conversation with God (check my early September entry for details), and spent the afternoon at my parents' house making flash cards for my nursing class trying not to let the anxiety take over me. I remember standing at the kitchen window, the same one my mom has stood at for countless years waiting for countless people to arrive, watching as Marisol came walking up to the door. She didn't look obviously pregnant, and I had to fight the urge to doubt her situation. She was very sweet, but very timid and all the while I kept thinking, "One wrong move, Tiffany, and you'll have her running out to the car!"

While Cristina assisted my mom in the kitchen Marisol and I found ourselves sitting together in the living room. Me, with my extremely limited Spanish, and Marisol with her limited English managed to actually have a conversation. My sweet Dad caught a picture of us, and it turns out to be the only picture of Marisol we have, so I have to treasure that picture forever even if I do look like a horse in it.

At dinner she sat next to me and I kept shooting glances at her belly, wondering about the baby boy that was there. After dinner she excused herself and Cristina got a chance to fill me in on how they met. I'm sharing it, because I feel like I need to, like God wants it to be told. I do not however want it to communicate negatively in any way about Marisol. Here's my paraphrase of Cristina's story that she told to me that night:


I was working at Hennipen County Medical Center one day and was reaching the end of my shift. I had 15 minutes left before I was supposed to clock out. Now my job only pays in 4 or 8-hour increments, no partial hours or anything. So when a staff member came into the room asking for an interpretor I almost didn't take it, knowing I only had a few minutes left of my shift, but no one else offered, so I did. I didn't realize why I was supposed to be there until I started interpreting for this young girl. She was there to get a referral for an abortion. As the nurse took all her measurements I knew I was supposed to intervene. After the information was collected about how far along Marisol was in her pregnancy the nurse told her that she had one day left before it would no longer be legal to have an abortion in the state of Minnesota. After talking with Marisol the nurse left to go call the abortion clinic across the street to make an appointment for the following morning. I could not stay silent. 'Don't do it, Marisol. Don't kill your baby. God will bless you if you spare the life of your child. You cannot do this- I'll help you. There are lots of people who would love to adopt your baby- don't go through with this abortion.'

I convinced Marisol to come home with me, that we would talk it out and come up with a plan. She agreed to talk with me more about it. I realized that I could have lost my job for intervening like I did, but I knew that Jesus would protect me for doing His will. I told Marisol to meet me outside the front doors because I had to go into the employee area to clock out and get my purse. So I went and did that, grabbed my stuff and went outside, but Marisol was nowhere to be found. She was gone, like gone forever. At that moment everything completely drained out of me and I wept and said, 'God, I did my best to save that baby,' and I prayed for the impossible to happen. I grabbed my car keys and headed to where my car was parked. I was just about to get in when something caught my eye. It was Marisol and she was running.......running back to the front doors where we were supposed to meet! To this day I do not know what made her come back, but she got in the car with me, came to my house and made ME dinner. We talked for hours and I agreed to help her find a family for her baby.

A few days later I went to my chiropractor's appointment and there I overheard Jane talking about your situation to somebody else. Goosebumps went over my entire body and I went up and talked with your mom, saying 'You wouldn't believe this! I just agreed to help this young girl find a family to adopt her baby.........and here we are!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Our boy is HOME!!!

Wow!!! I cannot even begin to explain the utter amazement at what God has done. I'll go into more details later, but wanted to post pictures as soon as we got home.


Jeremiah Nathan Gear was born at 9:52am on Sunday, October 14 (7lbs 19.8" long). He is absolutely beautiful. The most amazing thing is this: I do not remember a beginning of him......it feels like he's always been with me.






Look!!! Look at what God has done!!!


We received a card this afternoon that says this:


JUST THINK
Your SON is here not by chance, but by God's choosing.

His hand formed him and made him the person he is.

God compares him to no one else- he is one of a kind.

Your son will lack nothing that God's grace can't give him.

God had allowed your son to be here at this time in history to fulfill

His special purpose for this generation.-Roy Lessin-



"Everyone shall stand in awe and confess the greatness of the miracles of God...they will realize what amazing things He does." Psalm 64:9




Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A new due date.

It appears that after meeting with a doula, Marisol's due date is more like the 14th than the 10th. Like a friend of mine said, "You can't change those things NOW!!!" But so it seems that our anxious, 'nothing-will-cure-this-itch-except-going-to-the-hospital' time continues. Fortunately I've had plans for this week that I've been able to continue in, but poor Lee has had nothing to do to pass the time except play Halo, which I am very quickly becoming tired of. There's this beeping sound as the character's energy field is recharging that I could go without hearing for the rest of my life. (Trust me, I already know that I know too much about the game).

But like I said, poor Lee has had nothing to occupy himself with. It's been rainy for weeks now, and the short glimpses of clear skies are spent walking the dogs who, I swear, sense the anticipation in the air. I've never seen them so pent-up, so needy! Walking them is good exercise and a great excuse to get out of the house, but even that doesn't come close to scratching the itch.

We packed a few travel bags and have them sitting on the bedroom floor. I can't take them to the car just yet because I'm partially living out of them, and what else would I have left to do? At least I can pack and repack a bazillion times if I need to find something to do, but once they're in the truck? Well shoot, you can't undo that.

In this wait for the inevitable rush of panic (Lee says, "No panic, Tiffany...." But I say, "Who are we kidding?"), we find ourselves saying to each other, "What should we do with these last few days of 'just us'?" It's hard to believe that from here on out it will never be just the two of us and to be honest, it's bittersweet. We haven't yet tasted the joy of parenthood and family that we've been longing for, but we're not quite ready to change what we've been. I think who we are is worth hanging onto during our venture into parenthood, and I think we're just stubborn enough to see it through. We continue to be challenged with enjoying these last days together all the while thinking, 'For crying out loud, phone. Ring already!'

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Entrusted

October 03, 2007
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48


I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this verse today. As I belted in the base to the car seat I thought about how odd it felt to climb on up on that awkward thing while I tried my hardest to tighten the strap. It reminded me of how many times I had watched my siblings and friends do exactly that while I thought, "Is it really necessary to climb in there? Come on...." Go ahead, laugh....I admit I'm a total novice. Apparently watching people does not automatically make you a professional when it comes your time to do it.

But what struck me about the experience was a note I found in the depths of my truck. I had written it at work because on the back of the paper is the cash register report for closing the shop. It obviously was sometime in the spring, before May:

'Yesterday was a dust day. As a Christian I place so many expectations of perfection on myself, forgetting time and time again that anything good I do is only because Christ resides in me. He remembers that we are but dust.....

Sometimes He gives us days like yesterday to remind us of just that. There was actually nothing about yesterday that should have aroused such deep emotion in me, but whoa, I was a mess. At work I distracted my mind with lattes and sudoku, but I had woken up in such a funk that nothing could really keep my feelings of impending doom at bay. I honestly believed we were going to get a phone call saying this whole thing had been called off. Last night we went to dinner at our friends' house and I got a chance to hold a 5 week old baby. It was weird! I felt totally uncomfortable; partly because someone just walked up to me and asked if I wanted to hold him when I didn't even know who he belonged to, and partly because for some odd reason my mind has not been able to actually envision a child at the end of this process....'

And there the note ends. It looks like I may have written more but I haven't found the other half yet. I think the thing worth mentioning here is the state of mind I had then versus what I find myself in now. I don't have any feelings of impending doom. Anxiety? Heck, yes. Occasional panic? Sure, that too. Excitement? Absolutely, but impending doom? No. I keep trying to decipher if I'm feeling any of that, but it seems like the doubting voices have been silenced. I thought in church on Sunday about the possibility of this whole thing going sour as well. Before, thoughts like those would have immediately been followed with the, "Don't you dare, God"s and the "I don't know what I would do if this didn't work out"s. But on Sunday, when the thought crossed my mind, it lacked devastation. What in the world!?!

So how in the world does this relate to the passage in Luke? As emotionally complicated and mentally exhausting as this whole process has been, I feel like it is also something with which God has entrusted us. Like the memorable dialogue in the movie, Evan Almighty, if we ask God for patience does He just give us patience, or does He provide an opportunity for us to be patient? If we ask God for courage does He just give us courage, or does He provide an opportunity for us to be courageous? So each experience, each struggle has been entrusted to us, but the purpose of them is not in just reaching the end. It's preparation for more.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Start Packing.

Wow...October is here already. Only 9 days until the baby's due date! I was thinking this morning that I should probably pack a few bags, especially the baby's things, in case we don't have to wait until the 10th. We've had everything just stacked in the nursery closet for months and should probably start preparing ourselves.

I got a phone call from the agency this morning. They did receive Marisol's paperwork and it sounds like they just need a few more pieces of information from her. They would like to get together with her at least once before the birth to go over things, but with only a little over a week left I'm thinking they may only be able to see her once, if that.

The agency is sending us our forms to sign and then we will be sending them the retainer for services. I'm hoping that they won't need to spend $4500 over the next week! Whatever they don't spend will be returned to us, and that money will go right back to the bank, so I'm praying that the agency will work efficiently.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Progress!!!!

I just got off the phone with Cristina and Marisol. The papers are getting faxed to the agency tonight!

Please be praying for Marisol. As the due date is getting closer, her anxiety is increasing about how she is going to make it, financially, after the delivery. She will not be able to work for about a week and will not be able to make rent for that month. Her monthly rent is $300 and if she indeed misses a week of work she will lose out on $180. Lee and I will be contributing as best we can, but with the adoption expenses looming, we are not able to do much. Please pray that God would provide for her!!! She is sweet, she is timid, but she is needy and I don't know how else in the world I can better show appreciation than to take care of her while she is pouring out generosity on us!

She says the baby is moving quite a bit and she's now getting so big that it's hard for her to walk around........you know it's gotta be close, now! Two weeks.......Dear Lord Jesus, give us all strength!!!

Timid Relief.

Last night I went over to a friend's house and updated them about the latest goings-on. Mary told me something that was just recently told to her and I will use it probably forever. She said, "Don't think beyond what you know." Exactly what I've been doing the past few days......

After I got home last night I checked my email and read that Marisol has an appointment tonight with Cristina (a catalyst in this process like you wouldn't believe) to fill out paperwork. Thank you, LORD!! I was so ready to disassemble every hope, every plan for how things were going to work out this fall, even the nursery, but I guess I'm supposed to hang in there and continue to trust. Can you imagine our relief when this whole process finally ends?!?

The due date is two weeks from today, but I have a feeling that the next two weeks are going to be quite dramatic, to say the least.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pray for motivation...

We received an email last night saying Marisol has been difficult to get a hold of, and with just basically two weeks until the baby's due date, time is running out. There is no time for delay, for lack of motivation, or disinterest in the legal preparation process, but I fear that all those things are happening. All it took was one comment about it being hard to get a hold of Marisol and I'm back to thinking, "Well, I guess that's over." How timid my faith!

I was putting laundry away a few minutes ago and walked into the freshly repainted nursery and prayed, "God, we're trusting you. Please....not again." How meager my ability to endure! You'd think at this point in the process we would be able to handle the bumps in the road, the complications as hurdles easily crossed, but I tell you I'm fighting my fatalist tendencies. This is where my faith counts and we are praying that God would once again hit us up. Can I claim resolution, victory, relief? Can I be that bold? The doubts I had abolished seem to be sneaking up on me again and I want so much for my faith to outweigh the ugliness, so we will choose to trust when I want to revert to protecting my heart.

In the meantime, PLEASE pray that Marisol will get a kick in the pants to get her paperwork done, that she will be motivated to get all this over with so she can once again focus on where her life is leading. Pray for the agency- that they will be able to expedite the process as much as possible, that there would be no paperwork delays. I will continue to post updates along the way. We appreciate (SO MUCH!) all your support and prayers as we anxiously await our baby boy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Less than 3 weeks and counting....

I haven't even been able to process the normal goings-on of my hectic life, let alone the idea of parenthood (again) rising to the surface, but Lee looked at me tonight (our 8th wedding anniversary) and said, "So, are you ready to be a mom?"

Part of me is terrified, petrified even. So completely frozen in fear that once again I'm being set up for complete heartbreak. But I know God to be good, and Lee has been so great in setting my heart at ease. Lee, who still has not even met Marisol, has more faith in this process than I can muster.

I still have the carseat (almost brand new) that friends of ours lent to us in the spring. It was sitting by the front door for almost a week in May and when we got home from the cities I meant to return it. We had been home a few days when Bekah came over and as I reminded her that we needed to get it back to her, she looked at me and said, "Just keep it for a while....." Choking up, we both believed that God would put it to use.

Little did we both know that we would need it so soon! At least for a few weeks until we get our own. The paperwork has begun, so it's officially in process. I dare not even count days until the due date because I don't think I can quite handle the reality of it quite yet. The paperwork should be fairly straight-forward as many of the things were straightened out when I met with Marisol. There are no plans for on-going contact with her, and the plan for the delivery/hospital stay is all but worked out. Our little man will be born at Regions Hospital in St. Paul (where I was born)!

I will continue to keep everyone posted on the details as we progress. Thank you all for your continued prayers!!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mercies are new every morning.

Today I received a much needed random act of kindness from a lady on the street. The past few days have been slightly overwhelming with making a decision about using an attorney or continuing with the agency, organizing my school schedule and class requirements (I won't go into all of those details- but there has been a lot to handle this week), having our roof replaced, organizing our finances so we know how to proceed with the adoption, etc. So there has been a bit of stress this week for us. But I guess when it rains, it pours. Trying to maintain a good attitude when it seems like poo is falling from all around is extremely difficult to do, and to top it off we've been dealing with stress from other people.

Being the people-person that I am, it's incredibly difficult to be at odds with anyone (try having that attitude when working in customer service- it's hard) especially when it's about important stuff. Something that I said was completely misinterpreted and I feel like the worst was assumed about me. I know there are some that can just brush those things off, but this situation penetrated me and even after my attempts to clarify nothing seemed to put it right. Yesterday we decided to go to the dog park to have some fun after a really busy day and ended up encountering an extremely rude man that thought it appropriate to humiliate me in front of everyone else. I was done after that. I had reached max capacity in enduring criticism from other people and we ended up going home in a worse funk than when we started.

But there's nothing like a good long walk to relieve stress, so this morning as Lee and I headed off throughout the neighborhood that funk slowly started to diminish. God reminded me that mercies are new every morning- not just for me, but for those who have hurt me as well. So when that lady saw us walking toward her and asked if she could give our dogs a treat my spirit soared. A complete stranger, a woman whose name I didn't even catch, showed me beautiful uncomplicated mercy. I looked at Lee and said, "She just wiped the slate clean of the last few days for me." So thank you, dog-loving stranger-lady!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Her name is Marisol..

I came home late last night from meeting Marisol, a woman whose story will make your jaw drop open. God is real- and boy, did I ever get the story I was asking for.

It looks like we will be bringing home a beautiful Latino baby boy in just a few short weeks! He's due October 10th.

Even as I write these words I cannot put the concept together in my head, it's too beyond what I'm capable of grasping right now. As I mumbled a few broken Spanish sentences and watched Marisol smile at my attempts I realized that I trusted her. How did that happen when all we could think about when we first heard of this possibility was how sketchy it sounded?


I'm about to bear the full honesty of my heart- and just know that God himself is working on it. When Lee and I considered our international options we specifically narrowed our options to countries with Caucasian children, thinking if we had a choice, why not choose something that wouldn't necessarily be so obvious? Did we really want to deal with people's questions, looks, etc. for the rest of our lives? Wasn't our family supposed to be our sacred thing that wasn't another walking public awareness announcement? But I tell you this, God speaks. There is a voice He has just for me, a way of saying my name like no other can, gentleness that's commanding. As I was preparing to leave for the meeting in the cities I spent a good chunk of time regurgitating all that we've been through these last months, thinking that if this situation were to actually happen there would be no hiding it, our adoption would be extremely evident. And it was like this:


"I want it to be obvious. I want this story known." Talk about immediate conviction, but the most tender of reprimands.


After everyone left last night my parents spent time helping me process through some of this before I hit the road to come home. In a stupor my gaze wandered to their fireplace, and I sat there completely shocked, not really focusing on anything. Do you remember Magic Eye pictures? You stare at this complete hodge-podge of colors, things begin to get hazy and a bit blurry and you begin to ask yourself, "What in the world am I looking for?!?" And suddenly out pops this dimensional picture of a bald eagle, full span of wings soaring over a mountain and you realize that only in this transfixed, semi-blurry state can you see clearly what was intended.


My eyes had fixed on what, I didn't know, until it came out just like those Magic Eye pictures......a rock with the words, Trust, engraved in it.



And I said, "Okay.........I will." So we turn the page.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Complicated.

My life just got seriously complicated. On three separate occasions this week I basically cried myself to sleep while I was asking God, "THIS?!? THIS is what I'm supposed to be doing? All that we've gone through these past months has been for this right now?"

These first few days of school were more about convincing myself to stick it out rather than high tail it and run like my instincts said to do. But I endured, I did well, I actually absorbed information all the while trying NOT to compare myself with the sweet 18-year-olds who were eating up Cell Biology like it was the easiest thing in the world to do. I actually had one girl say to me today in lab, "Oh, yeah. I forgot how much older you are." Seriously....

But that's not the point. So as I was sitting through classes slowly feeling like my plans for this upcoming fall were starting to deflate I wondered if I was even tracking with what God was doing. Have I missed something here? Shouldn't I be more excited about what I'm doing? Not that I don't want to continue with the nursing track, I most definitely do, but I guess I've been waiting for some relieving sigh of clarity to come my way giving me confirmation that I've found my actual life calling. It has not given me the foreshadowing of purpose I expected. I think my expectations were slightly askew, however. Nursing is not my first "love-to-do", as my mom says, but I will love doing it. I can see that I will, but it does not replace my most sacred of desires and I think realizing that has given me some permission to process through the disappointment I legitimately feel about being back in school.

But again, not the point. What has suddenly made things so complicated, so welcomed, is news I received today that once again a birth mom has chosen us to adopt her baby! Isn't it like God to provide answers to even our most facetious questions? So my questions this week came a few days early.....

Even as excited as Lee and I are, we are all about business. I remember going to the hospital (with the first birth mom), holding that baby and feeling like my heart was tethered, restrained. Like I heard, "Tiffany, wait. Not yet." We were going to wait until that baby was home until we poured out our hearts.

This baby, a boy, is expected October 10th. I will be meeting the birth mom on Monday and will be able to actualize all of this then. So again, we tether ourselves until we can unleash on that little guy we just might bring home! Until then I feel stupid for once again stomping my feet, throwing my insolant tantrum, and questioning God's love for me. And ever so gently He reminds me once again that He is not done!

Friday, August 24, 2007

It takes a little time, sometimes....

'...to turn the Titanic around'.

I admit I was a huge Amy Grant fan when I was a kid, even to the point of recording myself over the performance track of "Jehovah". I haven't listened to her lately, but her 90's hit, "Takes a little Time" has been applicable this week.

I registered for the first of my nursing classes on Tuesday in a room full of 18-year-olds. As I listened to the advisor talk about how important it is to 'schedule your time wisely' and to 'take advantage of all the social activities campus has to offer', I looked around the room to see if I could determine who was actually there to learn something this year. I don't know how I ever really absorbed college the first time around and I think I will be a much better student now that I'm older, considering I was the only one not looking around the room for someone to catch my eye.

Another opportunity for adoption closed on us this week, although it didn't come as a total surprise that the birth mom decided to keep the baby. I still don't understand why we are continually presented with leads only to have them fizzle- I don't get the point. So school is not only a welcome distraction, but it allows me to pursue my own sense of accomplishment and will eventually enable me to provide substantially towards our financial goals. Sounds totally adult, doesn't it? So why am I actually scared to death to go back to school?!?

I think I'm dealing with slow-motion whiplash, if there is such a thing. For this entire year(basically) we have been on the adoption track. Now I'm doing something completely different and it scares me a bit. Amongst other reasons, I'm scared that I'm not understanding God's will, that I'm pressing on totally oblivious to what I'm actually supposed to be doing. As I prepared myself for these classes and applied for student loans I kept praying that God would shut this door, but others shut instead.

So I feel like my heart is the Titanic, and I'm waiting for it to come around to where my life seems to be leading. We are continuing to explore adoption leads as they come in (one that we are considering getting involved with could happen very soon), so we appreciate your continued prayers!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Something is bound to happen soon, I've got to believe that. I don't know what it is about mounting pressure that also brings with it a sense of pending relief. Foreshadowing perhaps? I was slowly sinking these last few weeks, like someone was grabbing onto my shoulders and dragging behind me. Every effort to move, to breathe was labored and I reached a critical point where I knew I was either going to break or the cloud was going to lift.

For a brief moment it was like the cloud parted and with it came a dose of renewed endurance. I saw the lie that I've been believing for years now. The deceiving message of infertility is that we are in a battle of wills between us and God. Like every pregnant woman or tiny baby was told to walk right in front of us at our most sensitive moments. That God is cruel at times, or impersonal. And we question why He's doing this to us.

I remember vividly some of those moments. Most of them came in May when we were down in the cities. At this time the birth mom had gone into bridge care, so while we waited for word from her we decided to walk around Stillwater. Antique shops should be a safe place to roam without reminders, right? But as I turned corner after corner and saw baby carriages, pictures, and baptism gowns I screamed (in my head), "I can't escape it!!" But the message came, "You are not meant to escape it, you are meant to endure it."

We decided to take some time and sit right at the edge of the water. Trying to compose myself, we watched this little girl skip around in her dress. Cute. Her parents were sitting a little ways down the walk from where we were and they called her over to them, and as she started heading their way she walked right behind me and said, "I'm coming, mommy!" Ugh! It was like the splintering had finally reached the edge of the plate- I crumbled. Couldn't God have made that girl run behind us without saying anything? But again the message was endure, endure, endure, endure.

The battle I'm in is not between me and God, the battle is for my heart, my reactions, my ability to be a true friend to others who are being blessed when I am not. And even right now as we wait for decisions to be made by other people that could make or break our chances for a family the battle is its fiercest. I am determined, however, to endure.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturday was spent at a family get-together on Forest Lake. I think it was the first time in a while that the entire family was in the same place at the same time. What fun!! Jet skis, paddle boats, BBQ and chocolate cannot be topped as far as perfect combinations go. The day was full of memory-making, full of "isn't so-and-so such a better swimmer this year?", full of "Tiffany, watch this!" My heart was full and breaking at the same time- how can a fun day in the sun and water be so bittersweet? I LOVED being with my family. My neices and nephews who I absolutely adore just made me long for my children all the more and I kept thinking as I squeezed them a little harder, "If I love my siblings' kids this much- what will it be like with mine?" But that made me really sad and I am determined next year that there will be NO crying on the way home!

Please continue to pray for us! We are continuing to explore our options for adoption and are needing extra support as we try to remain steady and hopeful......

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Like Abe

Today I decide to take my lunch to a local beach in Two Harbors before I go to my chiropractor's appointment. It's an absolutely gorgeous day! The beach, tucked away from the main road into town, nestles into a bay that curves around rocky points that jut out into Lake Superior.
The water is warmer here and there are kayaks milling around not too far from shore. I notice on the far side of the beach little girls digging a deep trench, and for a minute it only looks like there is one girl, but then I see her when the other steps out of the way. She's almost entirely below the surface sand and like they found a treasure they can't wait to share, they run like mad across the beach to find their family. The wind is blowing, so much so that the one with long blond hair clings to her pink hat as she runs. I giggle as it reminds be of an old man that believes his toupee isn't noticeable until the wind picks up. But as I watch her little legs pump across the sand, holding on for dear life to that hat, my giggling stops and I just want to weep. And again I pray- pray that somehow soon all this will make sense to me and then I'm reminded of Abraham and Isaac.

Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his one and only rightful heir after all the promises He made regarding Abraham's descendants? Just to see if he would do it? We wondered during our first adoption attempt if God was perhaps just leading us through it just to see us active in our faith.
"That's dumb!", I remember thinking, "Doesn't God already know my heart and my willingness? Why actually make me go through the steps just to have it fall to pieces. That doesn't make any sense." Like Abraham though, God wanted us to act out our faith and so we did. But in Abe's situation God provided a ram stuck in the bushes at the most critical point in his journey. Lee and I were talking about this on Sunday saying, "We see no ram! Where is our ram?!?" I still don't know, and unlike Abe we have not been promised anything and I wonder if that made it easier for him to climb that hill with his son asking along the way where the animal for sacrifice was. But I resonate with Abraham's answer: "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And indeed, God himself will provide our ram as well.

Monday, July 2, 2007

I Would Die For That

I think she nailed it for me at least.....

I've come to love Facebook- the online social network where only my invited friends can see my info. I check my page every day to see who's written me a note, or sent me a message. I actually enjoy it more than talking on the phone- that may seem mildly antisocial, but because my phone calls usually last for quite some time, it's nice to be able to send a quick hello to someone without getting into the gorey details. Creating a profile of myself online was easy- if now I can only transfer that ease onto the adoption stuff.

We are starting to compile pictures to place in our profile for the agency and I'm realizing that I am going to have to get out the camera. I don't want to pose-that's stupid, but when you are trying to give someone a feel for who you are so they will give you their child, the pressure is slightly more intense to look like you might have it together. Right.

I'm working on my attitude regarding the "dear birthparent" letter. I haven't started writing it yet, and am actually dragging my feet a bit in getting myself to just sit down and do it. I realize that when I do write this letter, with all the specifications regarding what we are looking for in this adoption, that we might not find a match. We are actually relieved to a certain extent that our previous attempt didn't work- we would not have chosen the amount of contact and involvement that the birth mom wanted, but it was part of the deal. Not so, now.

In a sense God is giving us an opportunity to help create what our family will be rather than just be at the mercy of someone else. So we put out our "fleece" and wait to see what God will do.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I've spent the last few weeks contemplating. That's about it.
No option, no avenue has sounded good, yet I have felt the need to pursue something. When God seems silent it's easy to put a plan into action. Do we wait for specific direction or have we not tasted enough door jam? Do we pursue something until it slams shut in our face again? And to be perfectly honest, I didn't really like the last door-slamming and don't really feel like trying it again.

But in our conversations about not letting these childless years go to waste my dilemma has been to be actively in pursuit of something but yet not allow it to consume my every waking moment. So how do you, exactly, cork a geyser? The desire does not change, it does not fade, it does not lessen, it does not get easier to be denied, it does not get replaced. Only God can maintain steadiness of heart, energy to endure, and provide ultimate satisfaction. So I am attempting to allow Him to do just that, even while I am still getting Enfamil coupons in the mail.

We are leaning once again towards domestic infant adoption, but are not completely sold on the idea of using the same agency. We may still, but I think we should also pursue agencies here in Duluth as well as Adoption Lawyers. It might be easier for us to have our advocates a little more accessible.

So I've decided that while we continue to pursue adoption, I will pour myself into my other loves. I'm excited about allowing myself to be free! I had a taste of it, briefly, and how sweet it was! To recapture what I experienced in January, for those few short weeks, will be a tremendous relief to my heart. I think I need that considering I've been trying to hold myself together for a while and the facade is now splintering all over the place.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Should've beens....

Lee just celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday and I gave him quite a bit of grief for entering into the realm of thirty somethings much to his chagrin. I know I'm not that far behind, but still I do have the advantage and I will make use of it.

Yesterday was difficult for me. I didn't mention it to Lee as to avoid putting a damper on the day, but it was one of the several days I've had over the past weeks where thoughts are consumed with the should've beens. Yesterday was supposed to be the fulfillment of Lee's desire to have a child by the time he was thirty. It was one of those hopeful thoughts but not quite prayers that started in January with that famed and blasted call. We should've been celebrating as a new family.
We should've been packing a diaper bag, rather than our golf bags.
We should've been been at our baby shower on Saturday, rather than at the park in the cold.
We should've been learning how to treat an umbilical cord rather than mounting crown molding in the dining room.
We should've been up late at night changing diapers rather than watching movies.
We should've been....we should've been....we should've been......

I fight those thoughts constantly and I know not to give into them, but it doesn't take much and I'm absorbed in the life I expected we would be living now. I'm resisting the 'yuck' of what is familiar to me; avoiding the baby aisles in Target, fearing the phone call from the next person to announce their pregnancy, counting days in the hope that I might be pregnant, the discontent of knowing I'm not and may never be.....and on and on and on. THAT is familiar to me. What is not familiar is the 'now' where I have a choice to make: I can either slip back into the 'yuck', I can dwell on the should've beens, or I can advance.

All seem undesirable, actually, because advancing is completely unclear and I don't know how to be. Oh sure, I know all of the right Christian attributes to personify, but I don't want to just act it- I want to be it. So while I wait for something to happen that permits me to get some clarity, I will not give the stuff I'm still getting in the mail a second glance- I will just throw them away and hope when the time comes when I actually NEED coupons for baby formula they will come.

And without rushing the emotional process of disappointment, we have to decide soon which country to pursue, so please pray for us- specifically for direction!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Blip on the Radar....

Right before I fell asleep the other night a thought came to me so very clearly that had I given it any time to fester I'm sure I would have been up all night. I almost brought it up to Lee, but I've learned that it's not always the nicest thing to do to engage someone in serious conversation just after they've fallen asleep. It was not a stream of consciousness thought- I don't even remember what was in my head before, and it both intrigued and bothered me.

"What is the use of prayer? If God is sovereign, like He claims to be, then why would praying about something influence what happens? Why bother? It's just a waste of time and energy..."

I do not believe these thoughts to be true, because God's word says otherwise, but God's sovereignty is a sensitive and thought-provoking issue for us right now. Talking with our pastor the other day, he mentioned how he's experienced times where God has led very specifically in a certain direction only to slam the door in his face and give him a bloody nose. Those times, he said, were usually when God was about to do something big. Could it be that we are about to witness God do something even bigger and cooler than this adoption story was supposed to be?

Dear friends are in the process of mobilizing a 'movement'. They've created a video they plan to post all over the internet, email to friends and family, attempting to raise funds and awareness of our story. Do I dare believe that what they are doing could actually work?

I met with some girlfriends for lunch yesterday and told them about my recent intrusive thoughts on prayer. They reminded me that prayer is many times about rallying the 'troops', gathering people together towards a common mission. Ellie mentioned that while visiting her parents' church last weekend (hours away from Duluth) people she barely knew approached her asking about us! I don't even know Ellie's family, yet they shared with their church what was happening with us and people began to pray! Could all of this be about God working in many, many lives- calling them to pray just so He could reveal himself to multitudes of people? I don't know- but the truth is people are praying....lots of people, and I feel so unworthy to even be a blip on anybody's radar.

Like we mentioned many times before- we will continue to trust, continue to believe that God is not done, continue to wait until God says otherwise.

I will post a link to the video friends have made once it is finalized!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sitting still is impossible for me to do. Countless times Lee has sighed and said, "where are you going now?" after I've been sitting next to him for about 2 minutes. I'm constantly moving and there's an insatiable need to get up, fidget with something, then attempt to sit back down again, only to repeat the process 2 minutes later. I don't understand it and I know it drives my poor husband crazy, but I can't turn it off. So right now, when it's raining and I have nothing I want to work on in the house, the fidgeting is intense.

Fortunately Lee is off at the store drooling over the latest paintball technology. Ever since he joined a group of guys for a night of paint balling on Monday that's all he's been thinking and talking about. I'm still waiting for my 'paintball' distraction, but until something else captures me, adoption is all I'm thinking about. I'm trying to move forward, to bring some sense of resolution to this whole ordeal but yet with no clear direction. So here I am, bored, mentally and emotionally exhausted, attempting to be quiet and wait for guidance.

We received the packet of information from the agency yesterday and when I read through it all I felt like doing was throwing it into the fire pit in the backyard and going inside for a nice purging vomit. How in the world am I going to trust another birth mother? If I was adverse to open adoptions before, how much more am I now? Yet our feelings when dealing with this process and the openness agreement we worked on was trying to get the birth mother to shed her distrust of people from her past and learn to trust us. Do I need a dose of my own medicine? Is it fair, in my attempts at self-preservation, to project distrust onto a totally new birth mother? No, but I think it will be extremely difficult not to. So when I consider my gut reaction to another attempt at domestic adoption I wonder if this is really the direction we want to go and for the life of me I cannot get the Ukraine out of my head. In my attempts yesterday to conquer the ambiguity of our position I researched international adoptions.

There are no referrals made with available children and adoptive parents because the match is made once the adoptive parents travel to Ukraine, meet with the National Adoption Center where they are given the child's photo, medical history, etc. and get directed to the orphanage where the child has been living. The adoptive parents then go to the orphanage to meet their child, complete the paperwork in the country and travel home with their new baby. This all happens over a few weeks, so there is a decent investment of time involved, but it allows adoptive parents to start bonding with the child before the adoption is completed. We would have to make some changes to our home study to become international, complete a dossier (which is a compilation of our home study plus some additional items), file an I-600A, or "Application for Advancing Processing of Orphan Petition" with the USCIS (formerly known as the BCIS, which was formerly known as the INS). Once the USCIS has approved the application they will send form 171H, “Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition.” We would have a copy of that sent to the consulate in Ukraine and then wait for approval from their National Adoption Center. With that approval would be a travel date set for us to go overseas.

Even as hopeful as this option sounds, it still feels like it will take forever. To be able to travel to an orphanage and sit with those babies, hold them, play with them and then choose one to take home seems heart wrenching, but possible! And right now, I need to entertain the possible. Yet the message remains to sit and wait and I'm getting absolutely restless because we all know how well I do with sitting still.

Monday, May 21, 2007

This morning Lee and I decided to add ourselves to the pool of available adoptive parents at the agency we've been working with. We've invested so much already and it seems pointless to pull out completely. Let's just pray that our roof holds out for at least one more year because now we don't have the money to pay for a brand new one. We talked with the director of the agency and she is putting information in the mail to us about our options. There are many children in the state that are on a waiting list to find adoptive families, but most are older or part of sibling groups. We are going to keep ourselves open to that idea, just so we don't miss out on any possible matches for us, but still believe we are going to find the best fit with an infant adoption. So now the waiting game continues....

The possibility exists to go international, with some slight modifications to our home study, but the process could be much longer and much more expensive. So we will shelf that idea for now. We've taken time to sit still and grieve and I think we are both moving into the proactive stage- we need to start doing something. Now onto household projects that only require time and energy. We will continue to pray, continue to hope and believe that where we are is exactly where God wants us to be. He has been faithful, he will be again.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I've had this stuck to our refrigerator for months, ever since we found out the gender of the baby. It didn't take too long to get addicted to magnetic poetry and now our fridge is covered with these snippets of randomness. I love it. This particular concoction of pieces I can't seem to rearrange and I've been dwelling on them for days. Are these words still true even though we have no daughter to teach them to? I know they are so I will not take pieces away from this phrase, I will not interrupt the promise my heart made when putting them together in my kitchen. I want them to come true. And even after incredible disappointment and devastation, hope remains. Sometimes I hate hope.

There's much about our situation that is so completely unresolved and Lee and I both are still walking around like we are waiting for the phone to ring, like there's still a chance that we might bring that baby home. Part of it has to do with the update we received a few days ago. Apparently the birth mom's step-mother would not allow her and the kids to stay at the house (big surprise there) so as of a few days ago she and the 2 kids were in a hotel. In a hotel!!

Is it right that I'm praying she can't handle it? I need some closure, but for now we continue with the unanswered, emotional purgatory.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We've been home a few days now. I wanted to throw everything away when we walked in the door, but Lee was kind and gathered things up right away and put them in the closet of the baby's room. I still have this gift bag full of stuff the birth mom gave to us sitting by the side door, waiting to have something done with it. I almost threw it out yesterday, but we decided to bring it to Goodwill instead. I think if I throw it away I'd be succumbing to anger and I don't think either of us really want to go there for too long.

I woke up this morning with my brain still tracking with a dream I was having- the birth mom had decided to follow through with the adoption and we were all happy and smiling around the table. Seriously, I could do without that right now but there is no complete escape and apparently that is not what we are supposed to do- so I guess it's still just about enduring.

We watched a recording of one of our favorite shows last night. One of the characters desperately wants to have a baby but cannot and she was constantly running into pregnant women, couples who were adopting, etc. It was interesting watching this character become overwhelmed with not being able to escape from the one thing she desperately wanted, but it was even hard for us to watch her having a hard time. So we watched a lot of Ultimate Fighting- no chance of babies appearing on THAT show.

There is still no clear direction as to what to do now. I can only go back to work for 2 days a week so the shop can save money. We're trying to get another shop open this fall and cutting my hours was supposed to work out for everyone. I would be home more, able to spend much needed time bonding with the baby, and the shop would be able to put more money aside for start-up costs on the new location. Now Lee and I are just processing through what I should do- do I just work my 2 days a week or do I start looking for another job? But again, no clear direction so we are just going to hang out for a while until God gives us something.

The birth mom's social worker called us yesterday to check in. I was appreciative of her demeanor and the support she was offering to us. Our social worker just graduated so is out of the office this week- we haven't heard from her since late last week. If we continue on with this agency we will seek different representation. The birth mom's social worker filled us in on exactly what was happening with the baby. Birth mom's dad decided to look like the hero and offered her and the kids a place to stay (at his house with his wife and 11 year-old daughter) until he can find a house to rent for her. The social worker was pretty skeptical about how long that was going to last and did communicate to the birth mom that there was always an open door at the agency. She offered to keep us in the loop about how the birth mom was doing- but we told her we only wanted to hear anything if she had decided to follow through with the adoption. Aside from that, I'm having a hard time caring about anything she's doing. I'm not sure if feeling that right now falls under the "acceptable attitude" category, but it's where we are at.

We are trying to stay active, getting together with friends, working on projects in the lawn, and trying not to make too much sense of this 'stranded' feeling. We know God is not done, that His plan is still in motion so are just waiting it out like some drawn-out Chess move and trying REALLY hard not to say, "Just move the darn piece already."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Heading Home....

We will be heading home to Duluth today. We debated between going on vacation somewhere or working on projects at the house and I don't think either of us are in a state of mind to truly enjoy a vacation. I think we need to do something productive- to build something when all we feel like is tearing things apart. Who knows? Maybe now we will finally build our deck.

Throughout this entire process, starting seven years ago, I feel like God has been working my heart over to truly desire Him alone- and be satisfied only with Him. That's why my theme song of late has been "Enough".

All of You is more than enough for
All of me for every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You Is more than enough

You are my supply My breath of life
Still more awesome than I know
You are my reward Worth living for Yeah
Still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for
All of me for every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You Is more than enough

You're my sacrifice of greatest price
Still more awesome than I know
You're my coming King You're everything
Still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for
All of me for every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You all of you
Is more than enough.

I still cannot make it through this song without crying- It's been my prayer for so long. So today when it popped into my head I got angry.
"Lord, right now?"
And it was like He said, "Well, am I?' (Bear with me- I'm going to repeat a conversation I had with God this morning..)
"I don't know how you can possibly expect me to answer that!"
"Tiffany, if it's not true now, then it never was...."
Ouch.

So what are my options? I can either still believe that God is good, and if so, then I HAVE to believe that He is NOT DONE. Or I can believe that God is cruel and that receiving that call on Mother's Day, of all days, was just one more way to stick it to me. I can go there, believe me it wouldn't take much, but then what will become of my faith? of my heart? of my hope? And as small as all of those things are for me right now, I have to cling to something. Some semblance of a future where God actually grants this desire I feel HE put in my heart.

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. -Hebrews 11

For all those who have read previous entries- my floating faith walk continues! Please pray for us today as we go home. It will be very hard. The bassinet is still sitting beside my side of the bed, letters I was painting to hang in the nursery are still sitting on the kitchen table, the diaper bag-still in the backseat of the truck will need to find a storage place as well as the bottles and supplies I organized in the kitchen- Please pray that the nursery does not become a bitter shrine for us. Dear friends have offered to take care of things in the house for us before we get there- but I need to do it. I can easily allow some twisted time warp to happen in my head and pretend these last 3 months didn't happen- but I have to allow myself time to mourn when handling all the baby's things.

Lee told me last night that the first thing we are going to do is pray over that room. Pray boldly that God will fill it. Soon. We will believe that God is providing for us- even if right now it is just the strength I need for this very moment. Tomorrow will come and we will believe the same to be true then, and the next day, and the next day, and the next.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

God Why?

Please pray for us as we received news this afternoon that the birthmom has decided to keep the baby.

Lee and I both are -what do you possibly say?!?

We can either cling or despair and we want to cling.......but not doing so well today. We will be heading back home to Duluth pretty soon and will continue to post updates as we wait for God.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I think I may have scared the social worker this morning when we talked because she was on the horn to me this evening with a very sympathetic attitude. Good. Time to work for us now.

So it appears that birth mom did indeed go into this bridge care with baby and her 2-year-old son. This bridge care is run by a couple who, from what it sounds like, have some sort of cottage-type thing that birth moms are able to stay in. It is not entirely kid-friendly so they had to do some arranging so that they could all be there. She will be able to get some help from the caregivers but will mostly be on her own- which I think is great because she needs to see if she is actually capable of handling two. She's been living with her grandmother for a while- but her grandma told her she was not allowed to bring the baby home to her house- she's too old and it's too much for her to handle. The birth mom thinks that this time in bridge care will help her distance herself from the pressure of her family and allow her time to really see what she is able to do. I'm so glad that she is trying to figure this out NOW when she's been singing a different tune for so many months. (Sorry- still a bit raw)

Tonight is her first night alone with the two children. Pray that she doesn't get any sleep! I checked and it's OK that we pray for her to have a miserable night....

From what our social worker said this evening, the birth mom is taking the weekend to be at bridge care and plans to have a decision on Monday. Pray that she doesn't wait that long! Pray that her cousin (who's not a good influence at all and can't even care for her dog) will shut her mouth of lies, that the birth mom will wake up tomorrow and realize that the decision made so long ago be confirmed.

We've been in and out of this emotional haze for the last 24 hours. I'm pretty sure I get a certain look on my face when I'm about to lose it, because Lee's been watching me pretty closely and numerous times he's interrupted me with words like, "Don't spiral on me, Tiff. Stick with me." And I want so much to hold fast, and God has held me close. Lee looked at me earlier and said, "I can feel people praying- I don't know how to explain it, but I can feel it." Pretty cool, and honestly I'm grasping on to that fiercely. So thank you, all who have been praying!

Snippets from songs have fluttered into my brain all day and I know those things are not coincidence. For example this Third Day song has been ringing through my head:

"It doesn't take much for my heart to break
and you have done it for what seems the millionth time.
Whenever I hear of your saving grace
and how you gave your life in exchange for mine.
Sometimes I wonder why you even love me?
And why you ever chose to call me child?
Then I remember, it's by your sacrifice
and I can say that I am yours and you are mine.
It doesn't take much for me to shed a tear,
and you have done so many things to make me cry.
Whenever I think of all that I've done wrong
and everything that you have done to make it right.
Sometimes I wonder why you even love me?
And why you ever chose to call me child?
Then I remember, it's by your sacrifice
and I can say that I am yours and you are mine.
I can say that I am yours and you are mine."

Remember the character of God, Tiffany. He doesn't dangle things in front of us just to rip them away. So I will cling to the character of God because clinging to people and their promises has not proven trustworthy. He is the only one that can make this possible, and I will choose to trust even thought right now it is one of the last things I feel like I can do. I don't understand the 'why' of this and I don't know why I feel like knowing that would even help me. If I knew that we were going through all of this just for the sake of someone else, say the birth mom, would I still be as receptive to what God was doing? Or would I not pay as much attention because it didn't have that much to do with me?

A cool thing happened tonight. It affected both my mom and myself the same way, so I think God was trying to encourage my heart. We went out to dinner tonight and spent some time at Fleet Farm (my mom likes their almonds better than anywhere else- I know, but you don't know what length she'll go to for a good almond) and I completely lost it in one of the aisles. Poor Lee, one minute he was talking about these knee-high Sorel boots and the next he's wiping me up off the floor. Shortly after we got back to my parents' house there was a knock on the door. The girls who were our very first foster children 16 years ago stopped by to say hello and give my mom some senior pictures. They were in our home for about a year and were adopted by my dad's co-worker. The story of how this couple adopted these children is a testimony of God's amazing and complete control- their family is a living breathing example of God providing a home to children who needed it, and children to a couple who wanted a family more than anything. God reminded me of His awesome tenderness, and I'm grateful that He laid it on these girls' hearts to come here tonight- the day we were supposed to be bringing our little girl home.

I am so sad, and so scared, but I know that God is good. I know that He loves us, that He is full of mercy and compassion. I know that He delights in us, that He will carry on to completion that which He started, that He has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us. These things I know and it's these things I will cling to.

On our knees.....

The latest in our ever unfolding saga......

Yesterday I received a few messages on my voice mail- my cell phone died while we were in the hospital visiting birth mom and baby. Apparently the birth mom has been getting a pretty hefty guilt-trip from her loser dad and is suddenly now uncertain as to what she is supposed to do. She and the baby are being discharged as I am writing this and will be going straight into what is called "bridge care" or a crisis center so she can take some more time to process through the feelings she has regarding her family. My heart does go out to her, only by the GRACE OF GOD, because I would partly like to go strangle her, but I also cannot imagine the feelings she must have right now as she is worried that if she proceeds with the adoption plan she will lose the love of her father.

I had a pretty intense conversation with the adoption agency this morning and I feel pretty confident that they now know where we stand. We are not happy with them and the counseling they have provided the birth mom. We don't understand why all of this is being dealt with NOW, when we have had months of preparation for it. The birth mom knew how her dad felt about all of it, but still allowed him to come to the hospital and give her grief. PLEASE PRAY that his lies and deceptive "support" would be deaf in the birth mom's ears, that she would know that his influence is EMPTY and that he is not reliable. Pray that this time would truly be about determining what is best for that sweet baby girl and NOT what will most alleviate the birth mom's guilt. The time in the bridge care is totally up to what the birth mom needs, but has a cap of 30 days. 30 DAYS!!!! She is also trying to get her 2 year-old son to join her in this home and we are praying that she will be truly faced with caring for two children- that this home will not provide a lot of support for her so she will deal with the reality of the situation.

The agency has promised to keep us updated with her status. I let them have it a bit this morning and communicated to them our frustration with being completely powerless. We told them that we will be taking some time to determine exactly how much of this we are willing to continue with as we are not willing to be toyed with anymore. I don't want to add to the birth mom's pressure, but she literally has several lives hanging in limbo until she gets it together.

PLEASE continue to pray for STRENGTH in our faith. I've already deconstructed the baby's room in my head a hundred times, saying to myself, "what am I going to do with all that stuff? How am I going to walk back into that house with no baby, walk into that room and pack everything away?"and I know that is not from God. I know the truth, but my heart is fragile. Lee has been SO strong for me, and I cannot be more blessed with such an amazing man of God. He is steady when I am not and I am so grateful for him. Thank you all our dear friends and family who are battling with us in prayer. God is at work, He is faithful and He is completely sovereign over all of this. This is no surprise to Him and He will show up.

I will continue to post things as they progress so you can continue to pray specifically. Alright Lord, let's make this a story worth telling!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Please, please please pray.....

Things are very uncertain and incredibly stressful right now. I don't completely know where things stand and we DESPERATELY need your prayers. That's all I can say right now before completely losing it....

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Proud Daddy!!




Sharing

the news....




Little Miss Eva.....

She's Here!!!!

6lbs. 4oz. 19" long.........I know these specs but am dying to see my little girl! What will that moment be like when I finally lay eyes on her? I am waiting for Lee to come so we can head over to the hospital. I'm in a complete daze and am praying that God gives me the wisdom, the strength, and the freedom of joy over these next few hours. Pray for Stephanie as she spends time saying goodbye....

We will post pictures later today.....

Monday, April 30, 2007

We have completed our end of the adoption paperwork! We are just waiting to get our copy of the home study, which should be any day now. I talked with the birthmom on Friday and she is at 2cm! So it could, quite literally, be any day now!

I have started packing the infamous bag and believe I have everything I need, for now. Thank goodness we will never be too far away from Target! Our mulitcultural training class went better than expected, so once more I got myself worked up over nothing. A sensitivity-training comment for all those who will get into conversations with people wanting a family: Please do not ever say, "why don't you just adopt?" There is nothing "just" about it. To be perfectly honest, this is not a fun process and I cannot wait until the beaurocracy is over and I get to be mom (I realized I was about to put "just" before the word mom...ha, I caught myself!).

I am so excited, though, despite my brutal honesty! We will post news once we get the call and then lots of pictures to follow!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Compassion.....

Yesterday was Compassion Sunday at church. I was not prepared, to say the least, and spent most of the service with my head down; tears and mucus (ok, snot) running down my face. Of course we were sitting in the front row, so there was no discreet exit happening for me. Why didn't I grab a donut before the service? At least then I would have had a napkin or something... But God was at work in my heart. Big time.

As part of the focus for Compassion Sunday, a majority of the service was devoted to adoption. We had heard that another couple from church had an open adoption, but hadn't yet talked with them. They gave their testimony and as Dar was talking I sat stunned in my seat. Their story is almost identical to ours! But they had to do it all in 3 weeks! And as Dar was retelling the details of the time in the hospital, the goodbyes, and the actual placing of the child in their arms she made a comment about the birth mother that hit me hard. She said, .."how could we turn her away? She was giving us her newborn son!" I realized then that God was once again changing our view of this whole scenario. I had spent the past couple of weeks getting defensive, overprotective, and jealous of our birth mother! Apparantly I was missing the point here. God's plan goes way far beyond just giving me a child- he has something in mind for the birth mom too. But if I'm already closing myself off to her, then how will she be reached? So my challenge continues and we are anxious to talk more with Fred and Dar about their experience. How cool that we have people so close that have gone before us in this! God is good.

Not only did we walk alway incredibly challenged, but networked with two other couples from church that have either adopted, or are in the midst of adopting.

On Saturday we will be attending a parenting seminar down in the cities at the adoption agency. Because Eva is 25% Native American, the agency is requiring that we attend. It is titled, Multicultural Parenting in a Racist Society, and will be interesting. I'll leave it at that.

We are still waiting to hear whether or not the birth mom has accepted our openness agreement, so are anxious to get that finally sorted out. Other than that, we will get a copy of the home study and wait for the call to go to the hospital. And somehow in this whole grand scheme I'm supposed to be preparing myself for motherhood. The closest I've come is putting a few items into the diaper bag, slowly getting that packed so it's ready when we get the call. But I don't even know exactly what to put in there!

This whole process is incredible, surreal, and just downright weird.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My kind of Labor....

I heard from the social worker today and ICWA does not apply to our situation! Praise the Lord! ICWA stands for Indian Child Welfare Act, and because the baby is 25% Ojibwe, there was a possibility that the Leech Lake Band could take jurisdiction over this adoption, could require things of us in raising this child, but that the baby could also receive benefits from them (which wouldn't have been all that bad..). I felt like if anyone else was going to try to step in and tell us how we were going to raise this child I would absolutely scream. But once again, God is gracious. I must cling to that.

I don't know how many times over the past week and a half I have said to Lee, "I don't ever want to do this again." But I wonder if it's one of those things you just say in the middle of stressful muck. Will I look at this baby girl and then feel like this has all been worth it? Probably, but right now I'm really tired of playing telephone with the social workers. We've been working it seems continuously on a mutually acceptable openness agreement, defining all of the contact that we will have with the birth mother. What's in the best interest of the child mingles with our best interests and sometimes it's hard to see clearly what we should do. Birth mom wants to make it a legally binding contract, and Lee and I are intentionally trying to work past the feelings of mistrust. If we say we are going to do something, then we are going to do it, but then I remember that birth mom doesn't really know us. Just because she chose us doesn't automatically instill her with deep abiding trust that we will see her when we say we will.

I feel like we have been through several weeks of labor, and I'm praying that these last few weeks before the baby is born will be uneventful for us. I just want to enjoy the anticipation of it, not be flooded with anxiety. I have been working more and more on the room- crib skirt, window treatments, and it is slowly beginning to look like someone might actually live in there soon! In just a few short weeks a child will actually be sleeping in the bassinet and I have not fully prepared myself for that. One of my dearest friends just had her baby on Tuesday and as proud papa was telling me all of the details I thought - we're going to be sharing details like that very soon! How strange that my brain has not yet absorbed everything yet, but I hear from many mothers that "it" will come. So as we wait for the true labor pains to begin we will try to focus on the joy that awaits us!

Friday, April 6, 2007

5 weeks and counting

4/6/07: Today was spent getting dirty. Dirty like as in, 'I haven't seen this corner of the basement in six months let alone clean it.' We loaded up all the old carpet we ripped off the floor, as well as the rest of the remains from our home improvement projects over the past two years and headed for the dump. The gentlemen standing guard at the entrance proved to be very generous today and only charged us for half a load. I don't know why that was so cool to me, but right now any extra we can save the better.



We have two days until our social worker comes for the home visit and I have a running tally in my head of all of the things I want done before she gets here. And once again I have to remind myself that just because there is dirt on the wall from the dogs does not mean that our house will be labeled an unsafe environment. It's the little things under my control that are stressing me out. So we will run full speed ahead tomorrow to get the bathroom done, the edging paint work done, the visit to the grocery store, the library, Goodwill... Really, does any of that need to get done tomorrow? Not necessarily, but I will feel a whole heck of a lot better so we are going to do it.



This is a before shot of the baby's room. (This picture was taken when we went through the house before we bought it.) The previous owners had conveniently placed that nice big rug over the ugliest part of the floor, so when we went to strip the paint off the woodwork, it wasn't the biggest shock that some of the paint stripper got on the floor. So we ended up stripping that too.





4/9/07:

Our social worker left a few hours ago after a brief visit to the house. I think she was here maybe an hour... Once again I have been reminded of my tendency toward unnecessary anxiety. But what is necessary anxiety I ask myself?

I was completely stressed out last night and was frantically organizing our closet, to which Lee inquired, "Do you really think that's necessary?" I was in no mood to have my discretion questioned, so I responded, "Who knows where she's gonna look!!!" Darn it all if my clothes weren't going to fit inside those drawers..... So all of the outlet plugs, safety latches and scrubbing dark musty corners of the basement proved only to be physical stress relievers as the social worker didn't notice any of it. But hey, my house is clean.


It is now incredibly relieving to have one more hurdle jumped of this very interesting journey. And again I'm reminded that there is nothing about this that God did not forsee, that He did not know we were capable of enduring, if not attaining victoriously! So I will follow through with what I have learned: I will trust, I will wait patiently, I will continually give thanks because none of this would be if God had not entrusted us with this process and ultimately an amazing baby girl that I just can't wait to hold.
(Baby's room with floor and woodwork refinished)
We are now putting the finishing touches on the baby's room and will post those pics soon.......

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Serenity Now!

Today we are feeling a bit better than how things were going for us last week. The agency we are using is great, but sometimes it's best to eliminate the middle man from communicating between us and just talk to one another. We were a bit surprised with some of the ideas the birth mother had about how this whole openness thing was going to go, and had to take a few days to gather ourselves and attempt to think clearly. I remember a few hairy moments when thoughts like, "OK, God. I didn't agree to this whole thing expecting to have to share. This is not what I thought we had signed up for...." But then, this whole event has been completely His doing- so who am I to try to navigate the details, really?

So my biggest challenge? Receiving blessings, grabbing on to them with gratitude, but not clinging to them. What does that look like? Heck if I know right now, but I will try my best. And in the meantime we have to look deeper into this deal and pray, pray, pray for divine wisdom. Can anyone really decipher God's plan in the making? Sure, hindsight brings incredible perspective. But I don't have hindsight now and my only option is to pray, trust and step out. I remember in college coming across the verse in Joshua where God promises him that He will give Joshua every place where he will set his foot, and I picture this faith walk across a dark, bottomless chasm. As I walk suddenly these floating rocks just appear under my feet. (A few too many sci-fi movies, perhaps?) But even after one step appears I still find myself holding my breath until the next one, then the next one, and then finally one brings me to a steady place. Relief finally comes, but would I be prepared to turn around and walk it again? So another challenge is to learn, truly learn; not just 'whew! Made it through that one!', but really prepared to walk it again.

So as we process through how this open adoption is going to work out, we are attempting to look beyond this as just an answer to our prayers. Is God also planning to use this blessing as a way to reach out to the birth mom? What room in our hearts (beyond our obvious gratitude), can we make for her so that God can be revealed to her? So the dichotomy of my heart continues, but I know that obedience is my ultimate desire. We want to do what God has planned, knowing that if we prove trustworthy in this, He will be able to give more and more. And I remember another of my cries to God being, "Break off a slice for me!!!" So here I am, trying to digest this incredible portion. If only my eyes could me the size of my stomach.......