Friday, December 5, 2014

When God Asks for More

I absolutely hate city driving. The one way streets; the parking frenzy; finding meter change. I'm a country girl and I want to stay in the country.

Our agency is not in the country.

I rushed three blocks with baby girl in my arms, fighting the clock to make it on time. I rounded the corner and saw him through the large glass windows. He was pacing; my heart was racing. I heard my phone buzzing in my pocket. I just wanted to yell, I'M COMING!

There was no time for last minute jitters. As I waited to be buzzed in, I saw him staring at me through the door. I introduced myself. His response was polite, but his eyes were locked on Little Miss.

I knelt down to take her hat and mittens off. When I looked up his eyes were spilling with tears.

"It's so good to finally meet you..."

I thought he was talking to me until I saw his face light up when she started walking toward him.

I was invisible; the door closed.

As I walked toward the lobby, I ran into LJ's adoption worker. She hugged me tight and asked how I was holding up. All I could do was shake my head.  My eyes flooded and no words came out.

The hour went by rather, quickly.

The supervisor called out that their visit was done, so I went in to say goodbye. Little Miss, ran to me and gave me a big squeeze around the neck. I stood back up and looked her dad in the eyes.

"Did you guys have a nice visit?"

"Yes. Thank you. Really. Thank you for taking such good care of my daughter. She's so beautiful and happy. You are doing a great job."

I was taken aback by his demeanor. The man I witnessed in court was arrogant and nasty; the man before me was humble and kind.

"She is a firecracker. Did that come out in your visit, today?"

"Yah...I noticed that. She gets that from me."

We talked for several more minutes. When I picked Little Miss up she waved goodbye and lit up the room with her blown kisses (traitor).

 He touched my hand as we were leaving and, tenderly, thanked me for the third or fourth time, telling me how grateful he was for our family.

I smiled, genuinely, and squeezed back, "It's a privilege."

I managed to make it out of the city before the tears came. I choked them back so that I could call Ben. I wasn't angry that he showed up...I was angry over how much I cared.

Ben put the perfect words to my turmoil.

We should be experts at this by now. Someone is going to lose. Someone always loses. Before, this morning, I had every justification for why it shouldn't be us.

Then I met him.

And because God has given me His heart for His people, I cannot turn my back on Truth.

God loves this man more than I love his daughter and HE, alone, has given him a second chance at life. It would be anti-Christ for us to be anything but loving, encouraging, and supportive. What if Little Miss IS enough reason for him to stay clean and make life-altering changes? We cannot, with godly conscious, root for Dad to lose. Losing leads to further destruction of his life and others. We care, too much, to wish that for him.

It's our job to be pliable...sensitive to the Holy Spirit's whispering. Even if we take the loss in the end.

I sobbed on and off all day because loving this man is a sacrifice...and could end up costing my daughter. I know not who asked the question, but all day I kept hearing variations of "Will you do it?"

Without hesitation, my answer was always, "Yes."

Our hearts are shattered. We're not broken by defeat; we're broken over the call. Every time we start feeling comfortable, God moves the boundary line and asks for more. And it's always more than we want to give.

Today, I thought through the dozens of teenage times my nose was smashed to the alter asking God to ignite passion for people into my heart. Feeling such a burden, throughout the day, I got lippy and asked if it was too late to take it all back...but, He knows as well as I do, once you taste His goodness, there is no going back.

This case has so many layers; there's no way to know how it will end. Or the story God is unfolding. We could drive ourselves crazy (and have) considering all the possibilities.

All we can do is press DEEP into the Father and remember his great love for us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Not Part of the Plan - Take 52

I stood next to Ben at the kitchen sink with a lump in my throat. I could hardly stand next to him his heart's heaviness begged my knees to buckle. Even though his "clean-up duty" time gives me a much looked-to break, I offered to dry because...well, no words would do.

Our caseworker had called and the news wasn't good.

Little Missy's father (I hate even using the term) is out of jail and ready to be super dad to the daughter he has never met. I can't get into the details, but this will, likely, be a long battle. I take her to her first supervised visit on Friday.

Our heads say - this is a career criminal with numerous obstacles, no resources, multiple children and a new one on the way, soon - it will never happen. Our hearts wrestle the unwavering love and protection we feel for our daughter and the failures that exist within an imperfect system.

As our caseworker laid out what the next six months will, likely, hold, I took the information in stride and felt tremendous peace. When she finished, I told her that we would continue to take it one day at a time and trust God for baby girl.

"You are, seriously, the calmest person I have ever met," she said.

I reminded her how crazy the inside of our house is. I can't, possibly, concern myself with the craziness that exists OUTSIDE.

She laughed and we hung up.

My peace is genuine, buy my heart heaved for Ben. I dreaded telling him. We are not in the same spot and I knew how the update would affect him.

I don't know when God gave me complete assurance, but I remember our conversation well. It was at least several weeks ago and I walked away feeling deeply loved. Here's the thing. In my worst case scenario, I am forced to hand my daughter over to a man that I don't like, trust, or believe has any business raising children. I wouldn't argue that the tragedy of that event would devastate my heart and leave me sadder than I can even imagine. But. I trust God more than I trust my plan. He has never failed me. He won't fail Little Miss. I want Little Miss to be forever part of our family, but if things don't go my way, I will trust God to protect her and to give our family what we need to make it through.

Once I was able to process the worst case scenario and lay the mess of it at the altar, I was filled with irrational peace. No matter what happens, God will give me what I need. And I know he did not rescue sweet Miss to abandon her. He will give her what she needs too.

Fast forward to the kitchen sink.

My Ben is the most tender, loves-beyond-himself man I have ever met and his heart bleeds for the fatherless. He is one big sap ball when it comes to our little tribe. And I am crazy for him. Watching him process my words and vent his frustrations was almost more than I could stand. I wish I could, supernaturally, infuse him with the peace in my heart, but it doesn't work that way.

While I can't run this part of the course with him, I can stand by...and dry dishes.

And I can pray. I can pray for another miracle; this time for our baby girl. And pray that God softens our hearts toward this man that is about to become a part of our, weekly, routine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Crown of Life

As I cleared out my phone alerts, before bed, last night, I thanked God for the peace in my heart and clicked on the scripture of the day. James 1:12:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Our case worker had visited earlier in the night, adjusting my expectations of how court would go, today. The white man who couldn't possibly be Sweet Boy's father was a no-show for his DNA test, but another man had surfaced from the past, demanding additional DNA work and possible custody.

I knew that resolution wouldn't come, today, but I was able to sleep without heaviness. I can, honestly, say (probably for the first time in my life), I trust God. Fully. Even if that outcome ends, tragically, for our family, I know God will have purpose. I'm sure I've never reached this state of peace before, but I like it and refuse to let it go.

We sang a song in church, last week, that I haven't heard in years ("If You Say Go"). The chorus has been running on loop for me, this week:
If You say step out on the water
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You and we will come
This morning, I drove the hour to the courthouse in silence. All by myself. Reflecting; thinking; praying. A few minutes outside the city, I whispered, "Lord...I am asking for a miracle, today."

We got our miracle. I wish I could reveal confidences and share every last detail so that you would know what we were up against...but the monster couldn't stand in the presence of our God.

I cried through the entire hearing.

After the judge was done terminating all "known and unknown fathers" for Sweet Boy, he asked to address me. He acknowledged my presence in the courtroom every month over the last year and noted that I was the one doing the "real work". He thanked me for giving Sweet Boy an environment of love and stability, while the legalities were worked out. He hoped that I understood why the process was so lengthy and why "right" is necessary in place of "rushed."

I don't understand why the process was so drawn out nor why every grace was extended to convicted criminals, while my baby battled for his life...every day...desperate for normalcy and permanency. 
That being said, I appreciated the judge's address.

I walked out of the courtroom, thanking God for his goodness, and leaving the burden of injustice at the door. I called Ben and sent my text messages, but the only person I really wanted to talk to was Sweet Boy. I could  hardly wait to tell him.

As soon as everyone was buckled in from school pick-up, I turned around and said, "I had the BEST day and I have SUPER news!"

When I told Sweet Boy that the judge told me, today, that we could adopt him, his smile lit up the backseat and he said, "You mean it? I'm, a real Pinchback, now!?!?"

His excitement was contagious and I cried the rest of the way home.

One victory down; one more to go.

Both belong to the Lord.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

This guy turned five, today!
His teacher told me it was a "no tear" day (progress) to which he responded, "It's because I'm five, now!"

I couldn't be more proud.

In the last nine months, I have seen this tenacity and commitment to persevere. A couple of weeks ago we taught the boys to ride their bikes without training wheels. Sweet Boy was the only one willing to try over and over and over, again, until he was riding with ease. As I ran alongside him, I heard his quiet chant "practice makes perfect - practice makes perfect - practice makes perfect..."

He's unassuming by nature, but his determination is unparalleled and seems to be fueled by a desperation to thrive. I thank God for his quiet, fighting spirit...he wouldn't have survived his circumstances without it.

I love all of my kids without debate, but I feel something special for Sweet Boy. His fight for normalcy has left deep wounds, but he never stops pushing through...and, all the while, he does it with a little song in his heart.

We turned DNA testing into a "date day with mom" and I soaked in the special one-on-one time that included making one very sprinkle-y birthday cake and learning how to kiss like a fish.

Our relationship has taken the most work, but that is, exactly, what makes it the most rewarding. I am so very grateful for the creativity in our story. I am thankful for the hardships and setbacks and emotional cliffs...because without them, I wouldn't be as kind, patient, or forgiving. And my heart wouldn't love without borders.

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 
Romans 5:3-5 (MSG)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Treading Troubled Waters

I know it's been awhile. I've been staying away on purpose. My heart is a walking weight. It's easier to think about other things. Sweet Boy is grasping for security and watching him struggle is the heaviest burden I've ever shouldered.

We're nine months in and my angel boy, cautiously, walks the line that separates past and future, like it's death and life, wetting the present with a dark fog. It seems impossible to navigate, but I know better.

His weekly nightmares reveal his desperation to escape this trapped world. He's in a boat that's sinking; He's trying to swim, but he's drowning; He's swimming, but a shark eats him.

Every week he asks me or the therapist when he will finally be adopted. He's concerned that I might lose him in a crowd. And he shows an, increasing, distaste for his last name (given at birth).

He flops between surety and unease, effortlessly. One day, he'll draw a picture of our family of six in our house, with rainbows overhead, but then the next day he'll draw a picture of himself standing outside of a crowd. Sometimes the crowd is family; sometimes it's classmates.

Sometimes he draws strangers in his bed; sometimes he draws them in our family.

Some days he asks for squishy hugs and wants to snuggle under blankets. Other days he stands across the room, refusing to join the fun.

Every night he asks to be tucked, tightly, into bed.

Last night he snuck into OUR bed, without notice, and I woke up to his little body cradled in mine.

Today, he made my day when he reached out and asked if I would carry him around for awhile. I think he just needed to be close.
Our therapist  reminds me, every week, that wholeness will take an indefinite amount of time. Sweet boy has survived trauma...and healing cannot be rushed.

Even though the days can be long - the steps forward small - I AM encouraged by his progress and closeness to our family. He knows that we are family. He laughs like us; prays like us; and even embraces our unpopular beliefs and traditions.

He knows that we're family...his question is whether or not we're the last.

Words hold little value. He had family twice before and we've been talking of adoption for months.

As suffocating as the sadness can be sometimes, we are standing firm in our faith. God has preserved Sweet Boy's spirit and he WILL push through.

Here is how you can stand with us in prayer.

DNA testing is on November 4th. I am praying that the punitive father (who cannot be the father based on race alone), does not show up for the test. This would allow us to move forward and terminate rights, on all "known and unknown" fathers at the next hearing in a few weeks. If the punitive father does show up for testing, pray that the attorneys will, miraculously, receive test results in time for our hearing. We've been told that it is impossible to get DNA results in less than 3 weeks.

I know that with God, ALL things are possible. We pray for his continued grace in this season, with extra measures of patience, wisdom, and love...for everyone involved.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rebekah's Story

Ty's birth mother, Rebekah, is telling her side of our story, right now, over on her blog. I encourage you to read her compelling words. It's such a good reminder that there is always more to the story...

 Adoption Part I: My Story Five Years Later
 Adoption Part II: The phone call that started it all
Adoption Part III: Rock Bottom

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ty & Rebekah

Because our life has become one long courtroom drama, it has been awhile since I've posted about the blessing of open adoption and how much I just ADORE Ty's first mom, Rebekah. If you're a newer reader, yes, Ty has two moms...with the same name!

Life has gotten busy for both of us as we juggle full lives with many children, but when we do have the chance to connect it is always refreshing. Rebekah has recently turned her blog into more of a vlog, which has been really fun because Ty and I can watch together. Awhile back she posted a video about little known facts about herself. Ty thought it was so cool that she liked to garden because he likes to garden, too.

He ended up calling her the next day and it was heartwarming to listen in on his conversation. Just like a little man, he was relaxed on the couch with his leg propped up. I heard him tell Rebekah all about school and his baby sister and the fruit trees we planted. Even though we, usually, only get a yearly visit in, he loves Rebekah with all of his heart and I am so proud of that!

I wanted to share the message that Rebekah sent to us, this week.

When Rebekah talks about what she's going to do with her pumpkin seeds, Ty actually gasped out loud.

Take a listen.


How creative and fun is that? Ty was over the moon that Ms. Rebekah would share her seeds with him. I am so thankful for this woman who gave my heart life. It is a complete joy to watch their relationship grow.

What a good reminder that God stretches us for his purpose - and it's always good.