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

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

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...."

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!!


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.....