Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Adoption Update: December 2016

It's hard to believe that 2016 is almost over. This year has been crazy for many good and many hard reasons, but it's been the best year of my life. New Year's Eve doesn't usually hold a lot of interest for me. I celebrate by laying in bed with Charlie and watching tv (the same thing I do every night). I kiss my pup at midnight and then we go to bed.

But this year is different. I may celebrate in the same, simple way, but there will be something different about this New Year's Eve. 2016 was an amazing year and I never want to forget a single moment, but 2017 could be the year I bring my baby home. There's no guarantee. There's no sure way of knowing, but there's hope - so much hope.

I haven't given an update in awhile - so allow me to catch you up (spoiler alert - I am still waiting):

The nursery is ready (minus that window that I still need to paint). Little bits of nesting continue to happen, but there's not much to be done now. Everything that's left can and will wait until I'm matched and bringing a baby home.

Early in the adoption process, I read a lot of blog posts of women telling how important the nursery was for them in the long months of waiting. A few months ago, I thought that it would just be harder to have it ready while waiting, but this room has been very good for me. Sometimes I just sit on that ottoman and pray or I stand in the doorway and imagine the day that I get to really use this room.

I hope that this wait will make the less pretty days a little easier - when this room full of dirty laundry, smelly diapers, a crying baby... when I'm wishing God didn't ask me to do this alone. I hope on those days I can clearly remember how it feels to stand in the doorway praying for this baby all the while knowing with absolute certainty that I am following God's plan for my life.

Fundraising was a tough job for me to step into. I'm in no way gifted in this area, but I've seen time and time again how God provides when we step out in faith. In four short months, you all have helped me raise 41% of my goal and that just blows me away. The generosity and love that has poured out from my family, friends and community is an incredible gift. I've still got a ways to go, but I couldn't be more thankful for how far I've come in this fundraising process.

Waiting is still something I am trying to understand. I've officially been waiting for 3 months and it seems each new month brings new challenges. Month One was about getting used to waiting and learning how to handle all of the emotions that come with this process (that was an exhausting month). Month Two was all about being ready, feeling ready, feeling like it needed to happen right now and I couldn't wait a minute longer (another stellar month).

But Month Three was the hardest so far. It was all sinking in that this process could take years - that I might have to stop counting in months and start counting in years. But in a small way, I feel like I get it now - I know how to handle this new normal. This month had some really deep valleys for me that were hard to come out of. Valleys that I couldn't make better, but I just had to survive. I've learned that while that is not fun, it's not bad either. Not every hard thing needs fixing, sometimes you just survive and that's good enough.

This will come as no surprise, but I'm going to say it anyway - waiting is hard, waiting sucks, waiting is exhausting. But as much as I don't want to admit it, waiting is necessary. I wish I could fully explain why it's necessary, but I'm not sure how. I just know that it's been necessary for me. I've been fighting battles over the past 3 months that I've needed to fight to build my strength and faith.

I've needed to submit my profile and not get picked so I could learned to love a child and mother that I have never and will never meet - and to learn that it's ok to give your love and not have it returned. It's taught me to pray and love deeply, no matter how hard it is when I'm not chosen. I've learned that I can't truly open myself up to love if I can't open myself up to pain.

But as always - in the midst of everything hard, there is God. Even when I've been more than frustrated with him, praying whiny prayers and feeling so lost, He's showing me that not only is he making this path - He is walking it with me.

I bought that little penguin a few weeks ago. It's the baby's very first Christmas present. They may not exist in this world yet, but they are so very real in my heart.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Christmas Prints - Adoption Fundraiser

The Christmas season has always been my favorite. I love having my home decorated for this special time of year. It may take me several slow days to put all of the decorations up, but in the end it's always worth it (which I need to remember when cleaning it all up takes forever).

I added several Christmas prints to my etsy shop. I loved working on these. They were so fun to design and create. Plus, they definitely got me into the Christmas spirit!

As always - every penny goes to the adoption fund ❤️

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Christmas Mini Photo Sessions

This is a little last minute, but here goes nothing –

I will be holding mini photography sessions on November 19th at Collmann Christmas Tree Farm in Elverson. These mini sessions are the perfect opportunity to get those much needed photos for the Christmas card you promised yourself you'd actually send out this year. It can be the whole family or just the kids. It's all your call!

Here's what you need to know:

First and foremost, all the money raised through these mini sessions will be going right to the adoption fund.

The cost for each session is $125 and you will receive 6-8 high resolution edited digital photos in color and black & white (so 12-16 total). Images will be sent out within 4 days of the photoshoot. Sessions will last 20 minutes, so please only sign up if your kiddos warm up to the camera quickly. ;)

All sessions will take place in the same location - a beautiful tree farm. The perfect backdrop for the holiday season! Feel free to bring props!

November 19 timeslots (rain date is Nov. 26):
9:30 – 9:50
10:00 – 10:20
11:00 – 11:20 reserved
11:30 – 11:50
12:00 – 12:20 reserved

If you're interested and this date doesn't work for you, let me know! If there's enough interest I'll open up another date in November.

To secure your timeslot, email me at Payment is due before the session.

I hope to see you there!

Below are some examples of family sessions I've done in the past.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Crib

This little room is full to the brim with of leaps of faith. Every leap is part of claiming and living what God has called me to. Most of those leaps were very hard for me. I've been mentioning for months how I wasn't quite ready to buy the crib. I think that's something that is hard to truly understand unless you are in the midst of adoption or have gone through it yourself.

Buying a crib is not about need or necessity. It's not about whether the baby needs it yet or not. It's not about being ready for the baby to come home. It's about me being ready. It's about taking a risky, emotional leap of faith because that is what God is asking of me.

Think about this way - when do most pregnant women prepare a nursery? It's usually ready just weeks before the baby is born. I'm taking that step now - months or years before I have a baby.

I could wait. I could wait until I'm matched or until things are certain. But I've learned that certainty doesn't exist in adoption. I've yet to find certainty anywhere in this process. But there is one thing I'm certain of - God has called me to this.

So yes, I could wait. But why wait when I can run toward this promise? I am running toward this beautiful gift that God has promised me. And I will keep running and leaping until my baby is in my arms.

The week that I joined the matching network was a very hard week for me in more ways that I can explain. I was filled with fear and doubt. I was questioning things I hadn't questioned in months. But God gave me an incredible gift that week.

That was the week that I was finally ready to buy the crib. It might not seem like a big deal, but for me it was this incredible milestone of faith. In the midst of feeling more than overwhelmed, I felt God's peace and certainty. I was finally ready.

So Charlotte, Cameron, Hannah and I took a trip to Ikea. The kids each picked out something special for the baby. Cam picked out those little cars because he had the same ones when he was a baby. Hannah picked out something soft for the baby to sleep with. She said "If I'm not there to cuddle the baby, the panda can do it for me." That trip will forever be special to me.

Getting here took a lot of work and tears and faith, but it feels so good to be here. Ya know what the funny part is? I bought the crib a week ago and I've been sick all week. More sick that I've been in a really long time. So sick, in fact, that I haven't had the energy or strength to actually put the crib together.

So the crib, along with the changing table, are still in the boxes laying on the floor. And it is killing me. It took me 9 months to be ready and now I'm sick? I'm just counting down the days until I can put them together and finally see them in place.

Sometimes, I stand in the doorway and look at the lights from the disco ball and imagine what this room will look like when it's finished. I stand in the doorway looking at those boxes and the promise they represent – and it makes my heart so full.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Feeling Delayed

The next step in this adoption process is joining the agency's matching network. This is when I'll officially be "waiting." This time of joining the network is what I've been working toward for months.

My profile books are ready and printed. The quality is wonderful. Phew! They arrived just few days before my family left for a trip to the beach. The books are the last thing I needed before joining. I knew I wouldn't be able to join the network while I was at the beach. And I knew trying to join the day before we left wouldn't work either.

So basically, I knew going into this past week that this was going to be a time to rest and refresh. I can't move forward yet, so I needed to just enjoy the slow time. And I did that - I read a book, did a lot of pinteresting and blog reading, spent a lot of time with the kiddos and my family. I did it. I relaxed. But at the same time - relaxing felt like work.

I don't know if I've ever felt more conflicted. I'm so anxious to be in the network and see situations, but at the same time I'm not at all feeling ready to start this process. But I want to badly so be matched and I feel like I've wasted the last 2 weeks. But really, what's 2 weeks in the grand scheme of things? But two weeks feels like forever when it's taken months to get here. But this is all in God's timing. But waiting is going to be so hard and the sooner I'm in the sooner I can get matched. But it could takes months or years, what does a few weeks matter? But these past 2 weeks have left me feeling stuck. But I am also nervous about moving forward. But I'm so ready...

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, folks.

The roller coaster of emotions that have happened during this adoption process is nothing that I could ever have prepared for. And trust me, I tried. I read everything I could get my hands on. I've tried to prepare for every single scenario.

A few weeks ago, I was so blessed to connect with a single adoptive mom who's son is about a year and a half old. She gave me her email and then after a few emails asked if I'd like to talk on the phone. Oh my gosh. Are you kidding me? Of course I want to talk on the phone! I have a bajillion questions.

It was one of those phone conversations that begins with "I don't even know where to start" because there are so many questions. She was amazing and patient and answered all of my questions - even the one's I felt stupid asking. I was so incredibly encouraged by her honesty and openness.

The best piece of advice she gave me? Stop trying to prepare for everything.

Ok, to you that might sound obvious. To me - it was eye opening. She told me to wait until I know my match situation and then prepare for that. Honestly, my mind was blown. I know, I know - it seems totally obvious, but it's really not. Its not obvious when everything is out of my control. Since I was feeling powerless, I tried to control what I thought I could - knowledge. Being prepared for anything and everything became my mission.

But I'm walking away from that. I'm working hard to stop freaking out and to just wait. I'm working to let God have this time and to not steal it away from him by spending my hours worrying.

So even though I'm feeling like things have been delayed and slowed down and that's hard - this beach vacation was everything I needed. I loved reading a good book on the beach. I loved cuddling with Cam and Hannah during movie time and not even looking at my phone (partly because Hannah accidentally kicked it onto the floor). I loved having slow days and slow nights with my family.

After a week of relaxing, I feel ready to take on the next step.... waiting to be matched.