Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Day We Met Our Daughter

   I don't know why this is such a hard topic for me. I have tried several times to write this post and it has just never come out right. The day we found out we were parents and were allowed to go meet our daughter is one that I will never forget, but there were so many emotions running through us on that day, it is a hard thing to capture in writing. I am going to try my best so bear with me. 
   February 12th, 2014. It started out as a normal day. Scott and I woke up early and drove to work together. On our way there I remembered a dream I had the night before. In the dream we brought home a little baby girl, but I didn't remember much else. I dropped Scott off at his work and then went to my office. 
   That morning we were going to have a fire drill so I arranged with my coworkers that we would go to the cafe down the street so we didn't have to file out of the building with everyone else. Sneaky, I know, but crutches, steep stairs and crowds of people don't mix so I always try to avoid it. 
   Twenty minutes or so to the fire drill I was sitting at my desk feeling very antsy and still trying to focus on work when my phone rang. I looked at it quickly and saw that it was our adoption specialist, Cassie. - Now let me take a second to explain what it is like when Cassie calls me. It is so nerve-wracking. My heart would skip a beat and then jump into my throat, taking my stomach along with it. She didn't call that often, but sometimes she had to give us an update or ask us a question so every once in a while she would call my phone. Same thing happened when I would get e-mails from her too. Adoption is not for the faint of heart! - Anyway, I looked at the phone and saw that it was Cassie. I answered quickly and said hello. She asked me if now was a good time to talk and I asked her to hold on for a second. 
   At this moment in time I don't think I really had any inkling of why she might be calling and I wasn't really thinking about it. She sounded so calm and normal, but my heart was still in my throat as I hurried past my hard-at-work colleagues to find an empty office so that I could continue my conversation in private. I found one a bit down the hallway and hoped the owner wouldn't mind me using her space for a few minutes. 
   I picked up the phone again and Cassie proceeded to tell me that we had been chosen! **WE HAD BEEN CHOSEN** The birth mom had interviewed two other families and she had decided that we were the couple she wanted to be the forever parents of her baby. Now there was no hope for my heart, it wasn't coming down out of my throat any time soon. Cassie went on to tell me that we had to decide if we wanted to move forward and then we could come see our daughter. **OUR DAUGHTER** I mumbled something about a fire drill and wanting to talk to Scott. Cassie told me to go ahead and handle all of that and to give her a call back. 
   I sat in that chair in the empty office for a minute or so, hundreds of thoughts running through my head. Then I remembered the fire drill and shakily went out to meet my coworkers to head to the cafe down the street. I didn't want to tell anyone the amazing news until I managed to tell Scott and I really wanted to tell Scott in person. That was probably the longest fire drill that has ever taken place. I don't remember a thing we talked about over coffee and cookies, I don't think I even ate a bite of my cookie. I was so incredibly shaky and excited and nervous and... so many other things. I wanted to share my news with the world, but it was so precious and I also wanted to just hold it to myself for a little while.
   After the fire drill had ended, we emerged from the cafe and walked back to our office. I went into one of our "focus rooms" (a private room for making phone calls, etc.) and debated on what I was going to do. Then I received another phone call from Cassie. She told me more information about our little girl and said that the hospital was going to most likely release her tomorrow so we needed to make a decision, go stay at the hospital that night and take her home tomorrow. - But she was tiny, just two weeks ago she had been born at 3 lbs, 1 oz and they expected her to be in the hospital for at least a month and a half! - Cassie assured me that she was doing great and the hospital did not feel that she needed to stay. - But I haven't even told Scott yet! - Cassie told me to call her back once I had spoken with Scott.
   Ok... now what do I do about work? Should I go meet Scott for lunch and then come back and finish the day? Yea, right, how am I supposed to focus? I paged my supervisor and texted Scott to ask him where he was having lunch. My supervisor called me and I told her the news and said that I was leaving. I don't remember a lot about that conversation either, except for the fact that she told me I didn't "have to" move forward with the adoption if I wasn't sure. It took me less than a half a second to say, "We will be moving forward, we can handle whatever comes." I talked a little more about work logistics and then got off the phone. 
   Scott was taking too long to respond so I called his phone instead. I told him that I needed to move my car and thought I'd meet him for lunch since I'd be out and about anyway. He told me where he'd be and I ran to my desk to grab my things, said a quick "I'm going to lunch with Scott!" as I ran out of the office. 
   I met Scott in the Safeway parking lot where he was eating his lunch. As he walked to the car I got out my phone, turned on the camera, hit the record button and put it in the cup holder between the front seats. I asked him what he had eaten for lunch and as he babbled on about bad chow mein and general tsu's chicken, I couldn't taken it any longer and I interrupted him, "[Birth mom] chose us." "Yea? What does that mean?" We sat and looked at each other, I smiled as tears came to my eyes. "She chose us and they want us to come to the hospital tonight to meet our baby." Tears are now forming in Scott's eyes as we both grin at each other. "We have to call Cassie to let her know our decision." 
   We called Cassie together in my car on speakerphone in that Safeway parking lot in downtown Seattle. Then we proceeded to call all of our family to tell them the amazing news! After many, very short, phone calls (we had to get to the hospital!), we decided that Scott would go back to his work and I would head back to my office so I could wrap some things up. He would meet me there and then we would run home, pick up some clothes and head to the hospital. 
   I got back to my office and told all of my coworkers that were there. A lot of hugs, crying, and congrats were shared. Everything was going by in a whirlwind! There was so much to do!
   Wonderfully, my friend Joanna was coming to my work that day so her son could participate in one of our studies, making it possible for me to tell her the news in person. As she walked off the elevator I was standing there in the lobby (Scott had also arrived by then) and said, "We were chosen!" 
   "You were...? YOU WERE CHOSEN?!?!" She shrieked, as it echoed through the busy lobby, and we proceeded to hug and laugh and smile and squeal, not caring at all that many people were looking at us. Elijah, her oldest son, asked if he could come with us to meet the baby but I told him he'd have to wait a bit, we needed to meet our daughter first. 
   Scott and I took off shortly after that, driving to our house while I made one more phone call to my oldest (as in, longest amount of time) friend, Sherri. I made some small talk with her, but when she asked me if she could call me back later... "No!" I said, "I need to tell you something important. We were chosen for a baby." 
   Words can't express the squealing and excitement that came through that phone, followed by tears, and then quickly by "what do you need?". We needed everything! Sherri promised to go shopping for clothes, bottles, etc. that night and we soon were off the phone. 
   We got to the house, grabbed clothes (Scott made sure to grab his Adoption Rocks shirt we had just gotten in the mail that day), cleaned up a few things, told the dogs we were coming back with their sister, and headed back up to Seattle. 
   We met Cassie in the same lobby we had met her two weeks earlier when we were there to meet the birth mom. This time was very different. We were excited! There were no qualms this time, but there were still nerves! I kept thinking, Is this how I should be feeling? Shouldn't I be crying or something? Shouldn't there be more ceremony to this? It was the most surreal moment. We walked down the hallway, took the elevator to the maternity floor and walked up to the front desk. Cassie told them why we were there and a nurse led us to a small room. The door opened and I could see a few nurses and a few babies. I hesitated for the slightest moment, then I walked in, feeling a little out of place and awkward, but excited and nervous too. 
   I looked quickly around at the babies, then the nurses pointed us to the bassinet that was the farthest from us. Inside it was the tiniest baby I have ever seen. She was swaddled in the white hospital blankets and had a tiny little blue hat on her head. One of the nurses asked us for our IDs (had to verify we were all who we said we were) as another nurse brought up a chair for each of us to sit in. I couldn't take my eyes off the little, tiny baby in the bassinet. I sat down and they told me to go ahead and hold her. I picked her up, held her close and talked to her with Scott directly beside me. We posed for a couple pictures, then I gave her to Scott to hold. 

   Very quickly after that another nurse came in and told us that we could now move to our room for the night. We put her back in her bassinet and they began to wheel it out of the small room. I remember looking at the other babies and smiling. (I look back on it now and I hope that they all had parents coming for them too.)
   As we walked out of the room, one nurse asked us what her name would be. I said, "Serenity Marilyn" and they all smiled and said it was a beautiful name. We followed our nurse and our baby to the room we would be staying in for the night, got a brief introduction to making her bottles, and then the nurse hurried away reminding us that we needed to keep track of diaper changes and bottle feedings. Cassie was still there and took our first family photo: 

And helped Scott complete his first diaper change (Serenity peed on him). 

After that, we signed paperwork that said Serenity was being placed into our care. Cassie left and we were all alone to figure out this parenting thing on our own. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit freaked out! Suddenly all of the emotions, adrenaline, stress, everything just hit me. I didn't know what to do with myself, but luckily I had Scott by my side. He handled it all quite well and fell quickly and easily into his new role as daddy. 

 Neither one of us slept much that night, but Serenity did well. We got some much needed bonding time in and even got to have some skin-to-skin cuddling that is so important for little preemies. 

   We were exhausted in the morning and Serenity's birth mom was coming to meet us there one more time. I was nervous, but as that time got closer I started to feel at ease. I sat on the hospital bed as she walked in the room. We smiled at each other and exchanged hellos. We talked about the night before and how everything was going. I asked her if she'd like to hold Serenity and she declined. We talked about her hiccups and she told me how Serenity would also hiccup while inside of her. We were two moms of this one child, already proud of who this tiny, strong girl would become. The pregnancy counselor came and asked us all some questions and then Serenity's birth mom said goodbye. She looked at Serenity hesitantly as she walked by the bed. I would have loved to hug her, but instead I looked her in the eye and thanked her. She was not in a place to accept affection from any of us, but I pray that one day she will be. She walked out of the hospital room door and that was the last we have seen of her (so far). 
   We handled more paperwork with the pregnancy counselor, Serenity passed her car seat test and we were ready to go. I called my sister, Minda, and asked her to bring us some clothes! We didn't have any tiny enough to fit this itty bitty baby. Minda brought us a bunch of preemie clothing (still huge on our little 3 lbs, 11 oz girl) and we soon left the hospital. Serenity was so tiny that we had to use a NICU car seat and she was still too little for it! 

   The days following were such a blur. We had many visitors (my sister, Amy, and her family were even here from S. Carolina!), everything we could have needed was provided to us by family members or friends. We didn't have to buy diapers for months (except for a small pack here and there) because people kept bringing them to us. My dad and step-mom brought us dinner and a co-sleeper right after they got off a plane that first night. Sherri brought us the most adorable preemie outfits and all sorts of other necessary items. We had people stopping by (some even every day!), calling, texting, Facebooking us and we had presents arriving through the mail almost daily. The outpouring of love and support was awesome! Serenity Marilyn was (and continues to be) a part of our community of friends/family without hesitation! 
   I could go on, but I'll leave you with one final showing of God's greatness: When we brought Serenity home from the hospital, she had one set of clothing with her. We packed it up along with extra diapers and formula that the hospital let us take home. Later, when I was folding up the tiny clothing at home, I noticed that there was something written on the inside of the little shirt. I looked and there, in black ink, was "Serenity". When that nurse had asked us our baby's name as we took her from that small room, God already knew and it was already written on her tiny little clothing below that bassinet; her name that had been written on our hearts over a decade before - Serenity!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Path to Serenity

If you haven't read our previous blog posts, I suggest you do that first so you can get caught up on what's been happening in our lives through the last 2 1/2 years. It has been quite the crazy road, but we are now on to a new, exciting chapter! 
Let me start with a part of the story that not many people know. Back in 2011, when Scott and I were still at the beginning of this adoption journey, we were sitting and watching TV together one evening. In my thoughts, God told me, very clearly, "Pray for your little girl right now." Now, before you think I'm crazy, I want you to know that this has never happened to me before; I have never been someone who went around saying that God spoke to me, but this was the clearest thing and I felt the sense of urgency in my soul. I turned to Scott with tears in my eyes and I said, "We are supposed to pray for our little girl." We immediately turned off the TV, took each other's hands and prayed together. This was before we had really moved forward with anything, this was before we had experienced all of the heartache we have now been through. We had no idea why, but we needed to pray for our little girl right then and we never stopped praying for her after that night. 
Fast forward almost two years (and if you read our first blog post, you will know what happened in those two years): We have experienced a lot of set backs, closed doors, and heartaches. We have been told "no" at almost every turn, but we have both decided together that Bethany is the agency we are supposed to be working with now. It is Sept. 2013 and we are filling out the paperwork needed to start our home study process. Now that we have a path and feel like this is where God is leading us, we are not holding back and are moving full speed ahead. We're moving so quickly, in fact, that I have to nudge our social worker a few times to let her know that we've filled everything out and are ready to move forward! She was surprised, it usually takes families months to complete everything that is needed, and she called me the paperwork queen! 
We were ready to start our home study visits! We finished those in just two weeks (3 visits in total) and finished the rest of our paperwork. It was now the end of October and we just had to wait for our 17 page home study document to be written up by our social worker and then approved by the agency. Once that was completed, we would need to pay another large sum to the agency and they would then begin to show our profile books to expectant mothers... or so we thought.
On Nov. 22nd, Scott and I were driving to our church to gather a bunch of teenagers and take them to Portland for an all-night event. On the way there I received an e-mail from our social worker, it said that there was a baby boy due in March that needed a family. She mentioned that our home study was not complete but they wanted to see if we wanted to be considered because they were thinking of moving this situation up to the national level (they start by just showing profiles that are local). We read through the information together, totally surprised that we were being asked to consider a baby so quickly. The information was a bit overwhelming, there was a lot of history to consider and her baby boy could face some challenges in the future. We thought about it, prayed about it, and talked about it over the next couple of days, and in the end we both felt a peace about saying yes, we did want to be considered. No, this was not a girl (like we felt God was leading us toward) and no, we were not sure we could handle the challenges this placement might present, but we both felt like we were supposed to move forward in faith and trust that God's plan would happen. We also felt like this was just the first time our profile was being shown, there was no way we would be picked on the first time! 
A couple weeks later, Scott and I were sitting in our living room in the evening after work when I received another e-mail from our social worker. The expectant mom that was considering our profile had met with the pregnancy counselor again and had chosen to meet with us! My heart beat faster as I read through the e-mail, seeing that we were actually being considered to parent a little boy that was coming in just a few short months, and taking in the updated information from the expectant mom's last doctor's appointment. And then my heart stopped, there toward the end of the e-mail, mentioned as an aside, it said, "apparently there was a mix up on the ultrasound. The child is actually a little girl." Tears sprang into my eyes, I turned my phone to Scott to show him the e-mail and said, "It's a girl!" 
It was so much to take in! The amount of excitement that comes when someone says they want to meet with you in an adoption situation is just crazy, but at the same time you are telling yourself not to get too excited because there are many people that are being considered and the chances are not high that you will be picked. But the baby is a girl! That is the part that kept echoing through both of our hearts. Maybe, just maybe, this was our baby girl. 
The next two months were a complete roller coaster. We were given several dates in Dec. that we might meet, but none of them worked out. This expectant mom was in an unsteady situation and the agency wanted her to be in a more stable living environment before she met with us. This meant that we went through two months of worrying and wondering. It felt like it was never going to happen and yet the agency kept assuring us that she wanted to meet with us. 
Toward the end of January we received another e-mail saying that this expectant mom was now ready to set up a meeting with us. She had been in an out of the hospital with high blood pressure and would like to meet with us there. We gave them a few dates that would work for us and waited for the date, time, and place to be set. Finally it was set, we were going to meet with this expectant mom on Jan. 29th in the afternoon. 
During those couple of months we had been waiting, my ever planning brain was in overdrive. I kept thinking about the worst case scenario. I was playing over and over in my head how rough our life would be if we were picked and this child was born with or developed all sorts of different problems. Some of these scenarios were real concerns, some were a bit of an exaggeration, but it didn't matter, my brain would not shut off and I was having a VERY hard time. I was researching constantly, I was talking to people who knew a lot about these sorts of situations and talking to people who really didn't know anything about it; both were making it harder on me. There were times that I would be in tears, just praying to God to guide us and our decisions. It was a very difficult time for me. I talked to Scott about it constantly, I don't think he knew exactly what to do with all of my emotions, but he stayed strong throughout the time. He knew that we were following God's leading for our lives and we just needed to continue to trust in Him. I wish it had been that easy for me! 
As Jan. 29th got closer, I prayed more and more. I knew that God did not owe it to me to show me that we were taking the right path, but, man, did I wish He would. Finally, as we were entering that week, I asked God that this expectant mom and I would have similar ideas when it came to names for this child. I knew that I was asking for a confirmation that God did not have to grant, but I needed something, my mind was too conflicted. 
So, Jan. 28th, I e-mailed our social worker to check in with her and see what the plan was for the next day, she told me she would check in with the pregnancy counselor and get back with me. About an hour later my phone rang, it was our social worker and she said, "[Birth mom] had an emergency c-section this morning, baby girl is here. She weighs 3lbs. 1oz. and is doing great. She is even breathing on her own." I'm really not sure how much more I heard after that. Although I did catch the fact that she would still like to meet with us the next day. 
Then our social worker told me that the birth mom had a name in mind for her baby girl. I immediately thought, "Oh, here we go...". She said, "[Birth mom] likes the name Tavina, it means beautiful person." But that wasn't the name we had picked out. It wasn't even a similar meaning... Now what? I told our social worker that we had already picked out a name, several years ago in fact, but that we would consider doing a double middle name if that is what she wanted. I felt bad saying that, obviously this person was giving us so much, couldn't we give a little on the name? But this was going to be our child, we both felt strongly that we needed to pick out her name. 
We didn't actually end up meeting with this birth mom until the 30th, but when we did, it was great. We were SO extremely nervous, but we got along well with her and things seemed to click. About halfway through our meeting, the pregnancy counselor asked us if we had any names picked out. I turned to Scott, knowing that this mom already had a name picked out and not wanting to offend her, but also feeling that we needed to be open and honest about it. I hesitated, looked at the mom sitting across from me and said, "Yes, we have had a name picked out for a little girl for several years, we like the name Serenity Marilyn." 
The mom leaned back in her chair and said, "Oh." I really wasn't sure how to take that. Then she continued, "May God strike me dead, that is one of the names (Serenity) I had picked out just the other day. I never even told my pregnancy counselor about it." 
Scott and I smiled at each other, not sure if we should believe what she was saying since we had been told a different name and we didn't want her to just tell us what we wanted to hear, but still excited that she seemed to like the name. I then continued by saying, "And we have always had a name picked out for a boy too... Malachi." 
The birth mom looked me in the eye and said, "That is my son's name."
Wow... all 5 of us at that table (birth mom, Scott, me, social worker, and pregnancy counselor) got chills and goosebumps up and down our arms. I once again had tears in my eyes as I explained to her that I had asked God to give me a confirmation that we were moving in the right direction. Not only did He give us that confirmation, but He gave us a double confirmation. He didn't give it to us before the meeting, He wanted us to continue moving forward, trusting in Him, then He would let us know that we were on the right path and give us more confirmation than we had even asked of Him. 
Throughout the rest of our meeting with birth mom, she kept thinking back to that connection we had on the names. She repeatedly said, "This whole name thing is really throwing me." It was clear that she had a lot to think about, but she had even recognized the significance of this name similarity and it was on her mind the rest of the time.
It wasn't smooth sailing from there, the day after we met, we found out from our social worker that we had been placed on hold (which meant we would not be shown to any other expectant moms), but that this birth mom wanted to speak with two other families to make sure she was making the right decision. Talk about a blow to the ego and a painful time, but we knew that this was our path, we had received our confirmation, the problem was... This mom could choose to ignore that. 
Finally, almost two weeks later, I received a phone call from our social worker. We had been chosen! We needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible to meet our little girl! There was so much that happened that day, but I will save that for the next blog post, this one is starting to look like a short book! It has been over two weeks now that our little girl has been home and we are so glad we were chosen to be her parents. It has taken quite a bit to get used to our "new normal", but we are enjoying every second and can't wait to see what God has planned for our new, 3-person family and especially for our little Serenity Marilyn!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

משפחה Familia οικογένεια Familie 家族 Familj Teaghlaigh

How do you say family? What does that word mean to you? Is it just those who are related to you biologically or does it include a larger group? As my friend, who has been staying with us for many months, prepares to fly away tomorrow morning to live with her husband in Northern Ireland I can't help but feel like we are losing a part of our family. She isn't biologically related to us, but she has been such an important part of our lives and has become a part of our little family.
Those questions are also important for those who are adopting. One of the biggest fears of those who are preparing to adopt is, "Can I love this child like 'my own'?" Scott even said that he had worried about it a bit and I looked at him and said, "But don't you love me?". He smiled and said, "Yes!" That was that; of course he could love someone who wasn't biologically related to him, he has loved me for over 12 years!
This has never really been an issue for me, I hadn't even thought about it until I read this in a book about adoptive parenting. I believe this is due to the mentality and values of my parents. As we were growing up my parents were always bringing in people who needed a place to stay or just needed a place to have dinner. If someone didn't have a family to spend time with, we became that family for them.
Scott and I both have a lot of biological family, but we also have a lot of friends we would consider to be family as well. Those who don't need an invitation to come over, those who don't knock when they enter our house, those who invite us for "family" dinners, and those who love us no matter what kind of crap we put each other through, in fact we often become closer through the hard times! These are our family and it doesn't matter how we came to know each other.
When you look up the definition of family on Google, one of the definitions is: "a group of people united in criminal activity", this could describe some of our friends. :)  But another definition is: "a person or people related to one and so to be treated with special loyalty or intimacy." So, what is the definition of related: "belonging to the same family, group, or type; connected" That last word is important to me... connected. So, let's put it together, a family is a person or people connected to one and so to be treated with special loyalty or intimacy. Exactly! We have chosen to be each other's family because we have chosen to be connected to each other.
That is what we are doing through adoption. We are choosing to connect ourselves to a child who needs a family to treat them with special loyalty. We are expanding our family, sharing our love, "loving for keeps".

Go here to see our latest update; exciting news posted today!

Monday, December 2, 2013


   Scott and I are expecting parents! We don't have a due date, we don't get one of those unintelligible pictures of our growing baby every couple months or so, and my belly isn't increasing in size every week (but it will be if I don't lay off the comfort food, haha). It is a different kind of expecting. We have been required to answer all the hard questions already, we have to come up with enough money to raise this child to adulthood, but then spend most of it before we even meet him/her, and we don't know when they will be here, it could be any day or it could be years from now. But, nevertheless, we are expecting to be parents. Instead of anxiously awaiting every little kick, we get excited about e-mails and phone calls! We are excited and scared and nervous... as are most expecting parents. We are preparing for a child to come to our home, our family. We don't know what this child will look like, we don't even know what the color of their skin will be, but this doesn't matter. We are so excited to meet our child someday! We are so excited to be a family of three after over 11 years of just the two of us. 
   We are also guarding our hearts. It has been a rough and rocky two years of seeking to adopt. I imagine that we feel the same trepidation that a pregnant woman would feel who has had a miscarriage. It is a hesitant kind of expecting. You believe, hope and pray that everything will work out, but you don't know the future, you don't know what God has in store for your family. It is hard. 
   Please don't mistake our hesitancy for lack of excitement and enthusiasm, we really can't wait to be parents! It is just a difficult thing to let your heart become so invested in something after it has been stomped on a few times. We are taking it one baby step at a time. We hope to put together a baby registry soon, a very big step for me! It makes me all nervous and giddy at the same time. We have purchased paint and such for the "nursery". I am hoarding my PTO (Paid Time Off) hours like a squirrel in the fall, since paid maternity leave isn't guaranteed for an adoptive mother at my work. All of these things are small, baby steps to our hearts' desires. We know we are on the path that God has intended for us, in fact He proved it to us this last weekend (more on that at another time). We are expectant parents and we are expecting a miracle! 
   This morning I looked at Facebook on my phone and then shut off the screen and put the phone down. A couple seconds later the screen lit up again as if I was getting a phone call so I picked it up. Somehow my Bible app had opened and the verse of the day was looking back at me. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we have asked of Him." 1 John 5:14-15   
Thank you, Lord, for hearing us!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks

"How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me?" That is the first line to a song I used to sing in church with my dad when I was little. It has been going through my head all day. It is a song intended to thank God for all the things He has done for us and you'd think that since it is so close to Thanksgiving... well, it makes sense. But this song has been going through my head today for a different reason; Scott and I have a task ahead of us. We need to write letters to the birth parents of our future child. Can you imagine? What a difficult task! We do not know who these people will be. We do not know where they will come from. We don't know their age, race, religion; all we know is that they will give us something amazing. And somehow we have to figure out how to tell them "Thank You" for this wonderful gift! We have to explain to them that we will treasure their child, our child, for the rest of our lives.
How do you convey your heart, soul, and entire being in only a page of words? How do we express who we are and what we are about? And let's think about it from their perspective-how do you choose who will care for your child for the rest of their lives from a couple letters and some pictures? Adoption is an amazing thing, but what a hard thing it is at the same time. Everyone involved is losing something. But in the end we all hope to gain so much more than we could ever imagine. In the end we hope to be a family. Not just Scott, me, and the child we adopt, but also his/her birth parents. No matter what level of involvement they choose to pursue, I hope that they can one day be a part of our family as well.
Now... how do I put this all into words for a mom who is hurting and trying to decide who will raise her child? Pray for me!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Price of Adoption

   Why not adopt through the foster care system? That is a question Scott and I (mostly me) are asked on a regular basis. It is true, there are a lot of children in the foster care system that need good homes. It also costs far less to adopt a child through the foster care system and there is even an agency in WA that will pay all the costs for it. So why do all of this and pay all of this to adopt an infant through a private, non-profit adoption agency?
   We have looked into every method of adoption that we could find. These past two years have involved us looking at different ways of adopting and trying to find the right path for our adoption at this time in our lives. We feel that we are capable of handling a child with some significant medical issues that others would not feel comfortable taking on. Abortion is a common choice for these babies when they are diagnosed in utero. I think about this all the time. What if my mother had decided that my physical disability was too much to handle or she didn't want me to have to live with such a thing? By spending this amount of money and going through an agency that will provide support (mental, physical, and spiritual) for the birth mother, we are hoping that we will be able to make a difference in this choice. We are hoping that a birth mother will see that their child is wanted by someone who can handle their physical or mental limitations and give them a chance at life with us.
   We did research on our adoption agency as well and have come to the conclusion that the money we are spending is well worth it. We aren't buying a child or giving money to a big, faceless corporation. We are providing the support that is needed to the birth parents of our future child. Bethany encourages and facilitates open adoptions for the sake of all those involved. We are securing a connection for our child so they can, hopefully, know where they came from and that they were wanted from the beginning of their lives.
   We want to adopt more than once and we may choose a different method to adopt our next child, but for this time, this is our path. Please continue to pray for us and share our blog so we may be able to touch the lives of some, encourage others, and be able to raise the money we need to show our profile books to those birth parents who are out there hoping that someone will love their child as much as they would.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Two Years and Just Beginning

   Two years - That is how long ago we started on our adoption journey. It doesn't seem like it has been that long, but at the same time it seems like forever. We entered into the adoption world with high hopes and bigger dreams. We thought that the biggest obstacle was going to be coming up with the money to pay for the adoption. We were wrong. 
   I was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (O.I.), or brittle bone disease, and because of it I have had over 100 broken bones in my lifetime, most before the age of 13. My father and oldest sister also had the condition so, although it was definitely rough, it wasn't something that really held me back. I was raised to believe that I could achieve anything and that my bone condition was just something that made me all that much stronger. My doctors had thought I wouldn't walk, but my dad knew better and pushed, prodded, and encouraged me on my way. 
   I am able to walk, I do not break any more, I finished high school with high honors, graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science, and am working at Seattle Children's Hospital as a research project coordinator. I don't tell you any of this to "toot my own horn" as it were, but to show that my bone condition has not held me back from anything, except maybe from running those marathons everyone seems to be so fond of nowadays. 
   Imagine our surprise when we started to pursue an adoption from Ethiopia only to be told that we would most likely be denied based solely on my diagnosis of O.I. Ethiopia does not have the guidelines set in place that a country like China has, so not only would we most likely be rejected, but we would not find this out until we had traveled to Ethiopia, met the child, spent tens of thousands of dollars, and become quite attached to a little child we were planning on parenting. 
   We were heartbroken. We were confused. We didn't know what to do. Scott and I had talked of adopting a child from Africa since before we were married. My mother had been a missionary and teacher in Cameroon for two years and because of that I had always had a soft spot in my heart for the children in those countries. 
   We decided that we would look into adopting from other countries, but hit obstacles at every turn. Ok, God, we get it, adopting from another country is not in the cards for us right now. So, what is it, Lord? What are we supposed to be doing? 
   We started the domestic (or within the U.S.) adoption process with Bethany Christian Services, but were scared off by the large cost that came with that option. Then we heard about "Lila", a little girl who had been adopted from China the year before, but was being re-adopted as she had recently been diagnosed with dwarfism and was not bonding well with her parents. We immediately felt like this was the direction we were supposed to go. We pulled together everything we would need and sent it in within a week, including a heartfelt letter to her adoptive parents, pouring out our hearts to them to explain why we wanted the chance to be her parents. The last thing I needed to do was e-mail the adoption agency pictures of Scott and I to go with our application. In response to those pictures, I received the news that the adoptive parents had already picked a family to adopt "Lila", the very first family they interviewed.
   Wow... this had seemed so right. This had seemed like the path. We were wrong again. What were we doing wrong? Were we not supposed to be parents at all? No, we know we are to be parents, we know that adoption is the right path for us. We just need to be patient, understand that all of this is for a reason, and know that once we are through this it will all be worth it. 
   That was about a year ago and, after some time taken to heal our hearts, we began to look into all of our options for a domestic adoption. That is where we came back to Bethany. It is a great organization that provides so many invaluable services, for us, for our future child, and for the birth parents. 
   Scott and I together have come to the conclusion that this is the path intended for us. The finances will be there if we just rely on God and trust in His provision. We've made it through the home study process already and are just waiting on the approval letter (which should take a little over a month). Then we will be applying for financial aid from several different Christian agencies that receive donations to give out to adopting families. The problem we are facing now is that we cannot apply for those grants/loans until the home study is approved, but once the home study is approved we will need to make our next payments to the agency. Complications! 
   We will be doing several fundraisers in the upcoming weeks and months, so please keep us in your prayers, we value those more than anything. Check out our YouCaring website for an awesome photo slideshow and a way to donate to our adoption online.
   Thank you for all of your encouragement! Follow our blog so you are sure to get updates as we have them! 
Scott and Tristen