Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I've been trying to put into words how I feel lately, and the one word I keep coming back to is STUCK.

I know you've all read as I shared about the heartache, the disappointment, the sadness, the frustration, and all the other feelings that come in the waiting. But I haven't quite been able to put this feeling into words just yet.

I feel stuck. I feel like I am stuck in a season that I outgrew long ago. And it's an extremely uncomfortable feeling.

I'm writing because I know it can't just be me. If this adoption has given me anything, it is a deep sense of empathy for those going through infertility. I have cried with more friends, prayed for more friends, and had my heart broken again and again for women who are also waiting to be mothers. Some still waiting and hoping to get pregnant and birth a biological child. Some who have suffered through infertility for years and are now on the adoption journey, waiting to bring home an adopted child. And then there are those of us who don't have children, and feel called to adoption as the way to build our family, who are waiting too. Here we all are - waiting with empty arms and an empty home for a child to call our own.

However it is that you've come to this place of waiting, it is the same ache for a child. I know there are so many who have suffered and are suffering through infertility who hear again and again, "but why don't you just adopt?" They think it's an easy fix. But even if you always wanted to adopt... even if you believe adoption is beautiful... you may still long to birth a child. Similarly, since beginning our journey to our daughter through adoption we have heard again and again, "but why don't you just stop this and try to get pregnant?" It is so hard for people to understand that THIS is the desire of our hearts. We know there might be an easier way (or honestly, there might not... because we have no idea if we are even able to get pregnant!) but it doesn't mean it's the way for us. Everyone has an opinion, and many voice them, but only God knows the desires of our heart.

So here we all are. Childless mothers. I hated that label when I heard it first, but I can't think of anything else that describes us quite that well. We are mothers in our heart - in our soul - but we do not have children.

And so we wait in a season we have outgrown. I feel that "stuck", out of place feeling more often these days than I would like to admit. I'm 31 and my husband is 40. Most friends who are our age have at least one child - some have a house-full. It is hard to find ways to relate to them. As I look around at what is "normal" and "expected" for people our age, it's obvious that being childless puts us in the minority, and I feel it.

When everyone else on our street is chasing their (multiple children) and I'm standing in the front yard with nothing to do, I feel it. When all of my mom friends are discussing birth stories, or sleep issues, or potty training - and all I can do is sit silently at the table, I feel it. When my newsfeed is taken over by birth announcements... and... as the years pass, children starting their first day of school... it makes us feel so behind.

I feel it when I pass by what should be a nursery in our house, but instead, it's still a guest room. I feel it when I walk by the kids' section of every store and fight down the desire to buy a child cute clothes.

I feel it at Christmas. Oh... do I feel it then. As we decorate the house - just the two of us - for the 6th year and hang up an extra stocking for the child we keep hoping for. When there are only a few gifts under the tree - because we don't have a child to buy for and our siblings have decided we're all too old for a gift exchange. When Christmas Day feels empty, because there are no children (not even nieces or nephews) on either side of our family because we are the oldest siblings and we have no kids. And all the days leading up to Christmas that should be filled with making cookies for Santa and watching cartoon Christmas specials and tucking a little one into bed in her Christmas jammies... that are instead spent in a quiet house. Christmas is the hardest. (... and I would be lying if I said I'm not already dreading the holidays this year.)

I'm writing all this with the hope that someone, somewhere is reading it and saying "me too". Not because I wish this painful wait on anyone ever - but because if you're in it, I want you to know that you're not alone.

I wish I could give you some magic formula that would make this season pass faster, or hurt less. There are times that I have handled it with grace, and times I have not. I think that's okay. There is an ebb and flow to the waiting... some days, and some seasons, are just harder than others. I have learned to let myself feel the hard days - to cry when I need to, to be mad when I need to be. (Sometimes chocolate and wine are the best medicine. I understand!) But I let myself enjoy the good days too... the times when I can bless other people because of the season we're in. It helps to do something positive on those days! We keep nursery a lot at church, and sometimes we babysit for free for friends who need the help. It blesses them, and honestly, it blesses us too (because we do love kids and enjoy our time with them!) We feel like we have so much love to give, and while we wish we could lavish it on our daughter, we try to love other children who are in our lives well instead while we wait.

I can tell you that the waiting got a little easier when the adoption paperwork was over - and I've been able to keep myself busy with other things. Projects and "to do" lists help occupy my mind and heart - because when I slow down and get quiet, the sadness comes. But I have also seen that I can't go 100 miles an hour all the time, because that's not healthy either. So I'm trying to learn balance (and failing often).

I don't know if any of these words resonate with any of you, or any of these thoughts make sense. I just feel like this has been on my heart for a long time, and I needed to get it all out. If you're in this season with me, know that I would give anything to be able to reach out and hug you... to pull up a chair and cry over a cup of tea as you share your struggles. I know you feel lonely, forgotten, and out of place... but sweet sister you are not. If you are feeling "stuck" today, please know you're not alone.

Monday, August 10, 2015

More paperwork, updates, and difficult news...

It's been a while since I updated our blog - so sorry friends! We have had a crazy busy summer - between a huge event for our non-profit, a freak accident that injured my wrist (and left me unable to type for a while), lots of trips out of town (fundraising for The Sound of Hope and other family things), working on our office, and also working on adoption paperwork, there hasn't been much time for the blog.

Yes - we are STILL working on adoption paperwork. We have actually been in process so long that we are now having to update "expired" approvals. (Did you know that - according to the US government, your fingerprints expire? Yes - the prints that are only yours, completely unique to you, and never actually change? The ones they use to catch criminals? THOSE fingerprints? Apparently they "expire" after 18 months and you have to redo them. Interesting, huh? *sigh)

Anyway... I thought I'd do a quick update for all of you with the latest on our adoption. So here goes...

In March, we made the difficult decision to change home study agencies. I won't go into details here, but after our experience with our first home study it was the right decision for us. Unfortunately, that meant an extra $700 we weren't planning to spend, and copying and completing a bunch of paperwork we'd already done. *sigh (again)

In June we had to get new physicals, new references, new financial info, and a new home visit to update our home study. In July, we had to send that updated home study, along with some immigration paperwork to the US Immigration Office to renew our I-800A approval before our fingerprints "expire" (which is still so crazy to me... but you've got to do what you've got to do!) The short version of all that is this: Last year we were approved by the US Immigration office to adopt a child. The next step is sending them the file of the specific child we are going to adopt with another round of forms and fees, so that they can approve that specific adoption. But while we wait, we have to keep our initial approval from expiring. So that's what we've been doing this summer.

Once all of that was completed, we looked into applying for a grant (since our timeline continues to stretch and expenses continue to mount.) While reviewing a fee list on our main agency's website last week, I noticed that a Psychological Evaluation was listed as a requirement. Confused - I sent our agency an email. We've been pursuing this adoption for 42 months, and been in process with them for 30 months, and yet we'd never been told about a Psych Evaluation. Surely this was a new requirement for new families, right?


We were told we would have to do a detailed, expensive Psych Evaluation as part of our process - that essentially forces us to revisit every area of our lives - past, present, hopes, dreams, struggles, plans - that we've already been through TWICE with TWO different home study agencies. Frustrated doesn't even begin to explain our feelings.

Then, while we were on the phone trying to get clarification from our main agency about our process, they delivered two more pieces of upsetting news: #1) The social worker informed us that she didn't think we would have a referral by October. As we've been waiting and hoping for a referral to come "any day now", this was very disappointing. And #2) She told us that things are moving slowly, and it could very well take 12 months to get our daughter home AFTER we receive a referral and are matched.

I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. When we've talked about wait times for travel, we've always estimated around 6 months. We only know one other family who adopted from this agency and this children's home, and their daughter was home in 6 months. To hear that we might have another 16 to 18 months before Kate is home was devastating. To be told that we might have to watch her grow up in pictures for a YEAR after we are matched was unbearable. I will never forget the look on my husband's face when we heard that news.

I spent the next hour sitting in the bathroom floor crying while Rusty held my hand. It was hard to breathe. It was hard to think. I actually thought I might be sick. This news was just such a shock to my system after hearing such good news back in April! We had been so hopeful, and we'd been waiting patiently. And yet, once more, we were met with the news of additional requirements and more delays.

I was reading a blog today about a domestic adoption that took a long time and the mother said this:
"... as a prospective adoptive parent you prepare yourself for bumps. You know the range of where the bumps might come up. And you know there are risks. But what you don’t expect….at least what I didn’t expect…was to hit every bump in the road head on."

That resonated with me so much. This has been our story. This has been our struggle. It hasn't been just one bump... or a handful of delays. I feel like every single step in this journey has been uphill, and we've been struggling to get our footing the entire way.

These days I struggle with not knowing what to feel. We have been through every emotion - and we've experienced each of them over and over again. Our life has felt like a roller coaster that we can't get off of. We have felt all the highs... all the joy and hope that comes when you are "expecting". But "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12) and we just can't keep feeling that "high" every day. We have felt the lows... the anger, the frustration, the sadness, and yes, even the bitterness. We've dealt with more than our fair share of heartache, fear, and confusion. But underneath it all, like a constant current, is this longing... this ache for our child.

We know this is still what we are called to do. God confirmed it to us in extraordinary ways, and our desire for our daughter has never changed.  We have discussed it over and over again, and we are committed to this process. We are resolute. But that doesn't make the waiting any easier.

This has been the most emotional exhausting, heart-wrenching thing I have ever endured. And yet, we still wait... we still work... we still hope. And we crave your prayers in the waiting... until the day our Kate is home in our arms.