Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 272

I finally feel like I can let my hair down and breathe. It has been a wicked crazy week that was chalked full of stress, meltdowns, and irrational thoughts. I wish I could have been blogging everyday and sharing more intimate details with you, but my "fan" base (for lack of a better word!) stretches wide across real life and blog world. Some things must be kept private out of respect for others.

I write you, today, from a good place. We're moving forward with the agency (check goes in the mail tomorrow) and my heart has returned to a state of calm. I've been thinking about the Jana Wolffe quote that graces the side of my blog:

"The process of adopting a child pushes your personal envelope as a woman, as a mother, and ultimately, as a human being. It takes more courage than you think you have, offers more self-knowledge than you think you want, and resembles your characteristics into someone familiar but changed.

When we opened the door to adoption, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had spent so many years on the infertility train that adoption seemed like an instant solution, both exciting and new. I am thankful that God does not give us windows into the future because I surely would have given up before we even started....I am thankful that he gives me enough grace for each day and that my supply is re-fueled every morning. I know I've said it before...but this process changes you. It's hard for me to see the familiar or even the good at this time, but I hope that people will extend the same God-given grace to me and know that he's not quite finished yet.

Along with having the best man on the planet (I thank God for him everyday), I am surrounded by people that love and support me to unmeasurable ends. I am humbled by the kindness shown to me and sometimes question my worthiness of it. I want to mention a few of the things that were whispered, handed, or hugged to me this week that gave me hope to hold on to. If you are reading this blog and have someone in your life that is struggling through a difficult situation (infertility or otherwise) take note on how impacting one measure of kindness can truly be.

One of my childhood friends sat and listened to me lament for the umpteenth time and told me that she had been crying out to God to allow her to share in my burden so that my load would not be quite as heavy. When I looked in her eyes I saw my pain reflecting back. Knowing that her feet are firmly planted as she stands in the gap on my behalf, provides me the luxury of walking in weakness, when my head is just too heavy to carry.

Last Sunday, a sweet friend relayed a
conversation between Jesus and Mary, regarding Lazarus (John 11:32-37)

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked.

"Come and see, Lord," they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

The passage, of course, goes on to relay the miraculous power of our Savior as he called Lazarus up from the dead. These verses move me because I know the pain from which Mary speaks. How many times have I cried out, "Lord...where are you???" I could repeat her words. "Lord, if you were with me, this wouldn't be happening!" The picture of Jesus weeping grips me even more. Just as he wept over his dear friend, I know he weeps over me. I know that he is weeping with me because he is my advocate...he pleads to the Father on my behalf...he knows my heart. Just as the Jews questioned his ability to keep Lazarus alive, I too question God and wonder what he's doing. As difficult as it is, I have to believe that there's a plan (It's the only hope I have). That one day my barren heart will rise from the dead and it will be no less miraculous then when the Father gave life to his servant over 2,000 years ago.

On Thursday, one of the girls I work with brought me various shades of nail polish to jazz up my collection. She wanted me to know that she had been reading my blog and thinking about me. Not only was I touched by such a sweet gift, I was reminded of the pep I had a couple of weeks ago. Painted nails are no big deal, but for me, it makes me feel healthy...and beautiful...and put together. The stress of the past week had stripped me of such luxuries. Tonight, I'm painting my nails!

Today, a friend (more of a sister) held me as I cried out my frustrations of the week. She knew that I had no words, so she spoke them to God on my behalf. I know that doesn't sound profound, but it was as if I was a little David and she was a massive Goliath (a good guy in my story!) fighting my battle for me while all I could do was cry. One of the things she prayed was that while Ben and I are faithless, that she and hubby would be full of faith, standing beside us the entire way.

Leah and Shelly both left me this verse on my last blog that ministered to me more than they'll know!! "But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day." Habakkuk 2:3

I could go on and on with stories of how much support we've received. From whispered prayers to hand squeezes, I know that we are not walking this path alone. I feel the strength of my friends (including all of you) and am eternally grateful.

I was a hollow shell this week, but feel full of life, tonight, as I step back and take a deep breath.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 271

crime of passion - n.

A defendant's excuse for committing a crime due to sudden anger or heartbreak, in order to eliminate the element of "premeditation." To make this claim the defendant must have acted immediately upon the rise of passion, without the time for contemplation or allowing for "a cooling of the blood."

This post is going to make me laugh and cry.

I love my Ben more than any other person on this planet and his fierce loyalty to defending my honor has made itself quite apparent over the last few weeks. It's almost as if he plunges forward, sword first, at any approaching pedestrian, in fear that they intend to cause me pain. Some may see it unnecessary, I see a man's bleeding heart that has been surrounded by surmounting pain - all of which is out of his control. The one thing he has control of (or thinks he does) is the pain brought on by others. I see a man, whose love for me is only second to God's.

In effort to shield his distressed damsel, Ben committed a crime of passion, today. Although it won't land him in the slammer (Thank God!), its effect may cause ripples for months to come.

Here's the short of it. I was having a conversation with someone and I was summing up how difficult the last two weeks have been regarding agency news, complications, differing opinions, etc. Ben and I decided to continue walking out our 12 month commitment to the agency, after which point a home study update would have to be done, more money paid, etc. Our decision includes a re-examination of our options at the end of August. I can't think about what might happen at that time because it's too difficult. At this point, I'm just living for today, taking one step at a time. The person I was having the conversation with didn't understand why it would be the end of the world to adopt a toddler or teenager out of foster care and never have a newborn to call my own. I mentioned that every time we have to shift gears, I feel like a piece of my dream which the person came back with "dreams change, stuff happens, you can find fulfillment in other avenues.....P.S. Do you want me to pay for counseling? I think your feelings are really unhealthy."

I hung up the phone so hurt....and very misunderstood. I immediately called Ben (who was running errands) with a mini melt down...It's not like I was talking to Joe Blow from across the street, this person should know me better than anyone else does...but her words couldn't have been more off base. I was only afforded a two minute meltdown because Ben was in a Sears checkout line - and how many of you know how irrational and high pitched the first two minutes of any meltdown are? Mr. Ride-in-on-a-white-horse-and-defend-my-wife's-honor got back in the car and immediately called the "someone" and ripped them a new one that spewed out phrases like, "you need empathy training," and "maybe instead of trying to be the hero all the time you should get down on your knees and hold Rebekah while she cries."

I, of course, am stunned when Ben relays the entire conversation to me, line by line - every gruesome detail - and wonder, "oh much damage control will be needed???" At the end of the "story" Ben breaks down and tells me how much he loves me and that although he should have taken a breath first, he can't bear to see me run over by words, anymore.

This process changes you. I've yet to discover whether it's for the better of worse, but the change happens either way. Sometimes mean and ugly things pour out at the most inopportune times, but can it be helped when the heart is merely reflecting its contents?

I'm not proud of the darkness...the thoughts...the apathy. But I'm doing everything I can to survive this monster. I believe wholeheartedly that God is faithful. But when a heavy, faithless heart takes over, its actions are unpredictable....passionate even. Will we have to apologize? Undoubtedly...Will this strain the relationship? Probably...but sometimes crimes are committed out of heartbreak and anger. We've both experienced our fair share of both.

All other elements aside, it feels darn good to know someone has your back.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 265

I think it's safe to say this is the crappiest week I've ever had. There are so many factors that I just don't feel at liberty to discuss so publicly right now...but between the agency meeting, going on birthcontrol (ironic, right?), and a continuous stream of bad news, Ben and I were left feeling like empty shells. For the first time since we whispered infertility, we felt like giving up. I wish I could go into all the details, but I'm just too energy zapped. The beauty of this mummy-state, however, was my afternoon with Ben. On the way home from church Ben asked if we could run away and move to a land with no families; no babies. Tempting as it was, we settled for an afternoon in our dark basement that quietly paralleled our hearts and mood.

After hours of old Doris Day movies, I turned into Ben, traced his face with my fingers and told him he was my best friend. There, cuddled on the couch in the blackness, we had found a way to stop time and burrowed away from the world...together. In the sweetness of the moment a little conversation emerged. One that made me fall in love with my husband all over again....

Ben started with, "I wish I could protect you from the world...I wish I could walk around with you and block your eyes and step in when people say hurtful things..."

My reply: "I wish you could too...I love that you want to protect me."

"It's my job to keep your heart from hurting."

"But it's hurting now..."

With a silly smirk he said, "I know I'm not doing a very good I?"

In that instant, all eleven years flashed before my eyes and I thanked God for Ben. I love him. I seriously do. If I had to choose, baby or Ben, I would choose Ben every time. In the midst of the darkest time in my life, I have one very shining light.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 263

Make something beautiful out of all this suffering...

So, I was driving home from work the other day and I heard this song by Nicole Sponberg on the radio. I drank in every word like they were mine, let them spill over my heart...and then I thought of you. All of my sisters who are walking this journey with me. I hope it moves you as much as it did me.


I'm at a loss for words, there's nothing to say
I sit in silence wondering what led me to this place
How did my heart become so lifeless and cold
Where did the passion go?

When all my efforts seem like chasing wind
I've used up all my strength and there's nothing left to give
I've lost the feeling and I'm down to the core
I can't fake it anymore.

Here I am at the end I'm in need of resurrection
Only You can take this empty shell and raise it from the dead
What I've lost to the world what seems far beyond redemption
You can take the pieces in Your hand and make me whole again, again

You speak and all creation falls to its knees
You raise Your hand and calm the waves of the raging sea
You have a way of turning winter to spring
Make something beautiful out of all this suffering

Here I am once again I'm in need of resurrection
Only You can take this empty shell and raise it from the dead
What I've lost to the world what seems far beyond redemption
You can take the pieces in Your hand and make me whole again, again

You have a way of turning winter to spring
Make something beautiful out of all this suffering

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 260

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
Last night's mandatory meeting....

The Good
  • Jesus is Lord.
  • It doesn't matter how impossible getting a baby seems or what roadblocks are put in our way. I know he has a distinct plan for our family and I have to trust that it will come to fruition in his timing and nobody else's.
  • The agency is not closing!
  • There are currently 500 waiting families at our agency. Of the 500 only 91 are domestic and of the 91 only 30 are open to AA adoption. Last year 76 domestic babies were placed and they are forecasting 80 for 2009. I'm not sure how many of the babies placed were AA, but it gives me hope that we are 1 of 30 waiting, opposed to 1 of 91 or 1 of 500!

The Bad
Our agency is non-profit (most of them are) and it runs on funds from adopting families with little extra at the end of each year. Families adopting internationally pay most of their money upfront, whereas domestic families pay most of their money at the end, when the placement is made (i.e. international sign-ups and domestic placements are vital to the health of the agency each year). In 2008, international sign-ups were down 40% (economy being the key player) and domestic placements were down 50% (for various reasons beyond the agency's control). It's easy to see why an agency would be struggling to stay afloat! Thankfully, the agency had a number of good years leading up to 2008 and invested extra funds at the end of each of those years. Unfortunately, the reserve was nearly depleted in effort to keep the agency afloat. What does this mean for us? An additional $2250 fee was added to every waiting family's bill. The kicker was that $1,000 is due in two weeks. The rest is spread out between now and August. Naturally, the room was in uproar. I later told Ben, "Every issue is magnified when you're dealing with hundreds of women who want nothing more than to be mothers." Women were crying (from the feeling of hopelessness) and husbands were angry that an already expensive endeavor is now even more costly.

Mind you, part of the contempt was not merely from the new fee structure, it was the lack of guarantee that this money will be submitted and the agency doesn't close in 6 months, with no hope of money being returned. And that is definitely a concern! My initial response was, "What in the world is keeping us here?" Because we're domestic we have very little invested (compared to international families) and most of what is invested can move with us (homestudy and profiles), with an exception of maybe $1000. But the longer I listened to the heart of the director, the more mine softened.

The Ugly
There was only one moment of ugly. Halfway through the meeting Ben leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Am I the only one that feels this way....or do you feel like this is never going to happen for us." I was pretty much brimmed with emotion during the entire meeting, but that pushed the tears over the edge. That's exactly how I feel. This is the most incredibly difficult path I've ever had to walk and nothing about it feels sure.

The Summary
It's hard to recap the gamut of emotions we walked away with...but I'll tell you our decision and try to list out a few of the determinig factors so you can understand where we're coming from. Whenever I have to make a decision I always start with what I know. Here's what I know: I know that God is in control (as hard as that is to believe most of the time). I know that I will be a mother someday, because the Lord has never removed the desire from my heart (I've asked several times!) I know that we picked our agency for a reason. It wasn't a fluke or some haphazard decision. I know that the Holy Spirit leads me with his peace and prompts me when I need prompting....

Next, I've done a lot of agency research over the last several months, investigating whether or not we should sign up with an additional agency, and there's only one agency I would be willing to switch to - Bethany Christian Services. I spent a lot of time in the beginning of the year deciding between BCS and AAI (our agency). We picked AAI for several reasons, but the number one being that it was local (Michigan based) and that a majority of the babies are born in Michigan (easier, more flexibility for appt's/meetings with the, and less money paid in travel expenses). Even after all the "bad" agency news, the pros still outweigh the cons, for us.

We believe that we are exactly where we need to be and have complete and total peace, even amidst the mayhem. Ben compared our jumping to another agency to switching lines in the grocery store. How many times do you leave your line to pick a new line and then you end up waiting so much longer than if you had just stayed put!?! Leaving our agency would be a wash because the money we owe AAI would have to be paid in new agency fees and profiles (BCS has different profile requirements). AND we'd be sitting around for who knows how long, waiting to be approved and added to the BCS waiting families list. Granted, our agency could close in 6 months....but there's no guarantee that BCS isn't hitting financial strain right now, too (I think it's safe to say every agency is).

We were so impressed and appreciated that the AAI President was so open and honest with us. He didn't sugarcoat anything, but spoke from the heart and reminded us of the agency's mission. Two things he said really resonated with me. 1) Everyone of us knew getting into this [adoption] that there would be tremendous risk. We were reminded on every sheet of paper we signed. There is never a guarantee with adoption, too many things can change. We weren't even guaranteed a baby and we still signed up! It's part of the deal. It's a high cost to pay and tolling in every possible dimension of life....but the great. Hmmm....I think I've read that in the Bible somewhere... and 2) The President of the Board of Directors (the same person that ran last night's meeting) was also on the Board of Directors at BCS for years before he came to AAI. Never once did he bad-mouth BCS, but he did reference the differences between the agencies and how much he believes in what AAI is doing and how it's being done. I can't explain why...but it encouraged me that we're in the right spot.

I'll stop before this blog entry turns into a book in and of itself! There are so many things that were said and felt that just didn't make it into today's post...I'm sure some people will read this and think we're crazy for not getting out while we can, but I hope those people won't tell me so! We've made up our minds and however crazy it might seem, it's right for us. God's amazing peace continues to surround us and we hold on to hope that our baby will come.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Day 255

I know it's been forever, right? turns out there's nothing to write, when there's nothing extraordinary going on in my life [wink]. My strategy to claim adoption ignorance and putting all thoughts of baby outside of my mind is working - no matter how unhealthy it may seem.

I'm in a bizarro state of peace right now and I must say it feels mighty fine. I'm busy at work, getting my groove on at the gym, studying for the GMAT, enjoying exquisite home-cooked meals by Ben, and painting my nails everyday. That's right, painting my nails. Now does that sound like the down-in-the-mouth, heart aching adoptive mother-in-waiting of 2008? My peace is so full that pregos, babies, and adoption news simply skim my baby radar and quickly fall to the wayside. I've had several bloggy friends offer up the services of their agencies and extend a hand of hope and encouragement throughout my frustration. I've casually perused a couple sites, downloaded a packet of info here, and ordered an application there...but each attempt lacked luster and left me underwhelmed. So, I'm done. We have that mandatory meeting with our agency on Monday. Maybe they'll close the doors, maybe they won't. I'm so underconcerned it's startling, but I like it :)

I know my baby will come. I don't know how...or when...or by whom, but baby will come. So, until then I'm living life. And it feels good.

[I know my bloggy background is technically for Christmas, but it makes my heart smile every time I read the side inscription. Celebrate the Season. It's perfect...all year round.]

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Day 248

Another year down, a new one ahead. I cannot bear to do my usual reflecting and I refuse to acknowledge what number this year marks to my barrenness. Instead I'm going to think positive and lay out my goals for the new year.

What I hope to accomplish in 2009:
  • Bring back Ben's wife of years passed (pre-infertility).
  • Train for the Iceman mini bike race (Slush Cup) , in November.
    • Goal: to finish without dying!
  • Put together an action plan for writing my book.
  • Obtain a decent GMAT score and begin my Masters program
  • Take my photography to the next level and experiment with my new tools.
  • [This is where I am supposed to write "become a mom" but I just can't do it this year...]
My biggest fears for 2009:
  • We won't get our baby before June (my best friends are both due).
  • We won't get our baby at all.
No matter what happens, I am looking forward to a fresh start, new perspective, and another chance at life. Hope you're looking forward to yours too.

Happy New Year!