Sunday, February 24, 2013

A movie and a project

I can't think of many things more validating than listening to another person's story that resonates so closely with your own.

One moment you are alone in a dark cave with no hope of light, no way of knowing which direction is up or down, left or right... and then suddenly there is a warm hand in yours... holding a candle, lighting the small space around you.

It is a deep down gut wrenching, heart breaking, wonderful feeling... that someone could possibly understand you and your grief.
It frees you up to feel whatever you need to feel... because suddenly you're not alone. And there's this person who not only has been where you have- in that hospital bed recovering with empty arms- but they now walk alongside you on this road, on this journey that lasts the rest of your life.

This is one of the reasons I blog. And why I talk about my son so much.

That is also one of the reasons this movie, Return to Zero, is so important. And this one too- The Still Project.

Both movies are bringing stillbirth out of the shadows and darkness, telling the world that it is not something to be ashamed of... our children are not something to be hidden and never spoken about.

Thank you, Sean Hanish, for allowing me to talk about and share Owen's story. No matter what the world says, my son is more than tragedy and loss. He is our boy, our blessing and God's great gift to us. We miss him, and love him with all that we are. And we are NOT alone.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Some things and some pictures

1. I love my baby girls' feet (even when they're stinky and have little baby toe jam).

2. Princess night at Chick-fil-a.

3. Hannah is a doodler. 

4. We're having a lazy snow day here. A much needed lazy snow day.

5. Sometimes I'm super grumpy (no picture needed for this one).

6. Yeah, and I'm no artist. But you can probably tell by this 'drawing'.

7. Hannah loves having a baby sister. And loves to pretend she's a mommy too. She had to have her baby in a wrap too.

8. The Christmas cactus flowers, blooming just for Sissy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Oh my goodness, I am itching to show you pictures of Sissy and share her real name. Yesterday a good friend gave us the gift of pictures- Sissy had newborn pictures taken, and we had shots of the four of us done too. Whew. Amazing. I can't wait to see them and show them off! Our girl is beautiful... both of our girls are the most adorable, most beautiful little girls I've ever seen! :) 

Check out those little booties... oh, the precious feet of our new daughter.
(and you can kind of see, if you strain real hard, the pink blooms in the very back of the picture)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

7 things

1. Sissy. Oh, sweet little snuggly girl. We love you. We have prayed for you, and the Lord has heard us. Thank you, dear Lord.

2. HM is the best big sister you could ask for. She wants to kiss and rub her head every chance she gets. The cutest thing is when someone new comes over to meet Sissy, HM will use her arms and showcase Sissy saying, 'that my baby sisater!'

3. About a week and a half (maybe two weeks) ago, my two Christmas cactus plants started to develop small buds. Normally, a Christmas cactus blooms in, well, Christmas time. Well, right around the time we got the call that we had a baby girl to bring home, little pink blooms appeared. I don't think it's a coincidence at all. Thank you, dear Lord.

4. We met Sissy's birthmom a couple of days ago. She is amazing. And we love her. Neither of us could stop telling her how much we love her, and everyone cried, a lot. She is a wonderful, truly wonderful woman. I told her that Sissy will always know... that I promise she will grow up knowing how much her birthmom loves her and how strong and courageous her birthmom is. We could have sat there for many more hours. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to be sitting with my daughter's birthmom, though I honestly have no categories and no context for what we were doing. God was there, he was with us in that room and he went before us too.
Sissy's birthmom wanted us to name her. We had a first name picked out a few months ago, but couldn't agree on a middle name. When we sat with our caseworker signing the last bit of papers, she asked us if we had a middle name for Sissy. Chris immediately said one name, and I said another. We looked at each other and I could tell that neither of us would budge. So our caseworker suggested using them both. So we did.
When we were talking with Sissy's birthmom, she asked us what Sissy's middle name was. We told her and she got a big smile on her face... her middle name is one of Sissy's middles names. I don't think that is a coincidence at all either. Thank you, dear Lord, for going before us... for holding all things together.

5. Newborns are sweet and cuddly, and long to be held and loved... and oh, how I forgot how tired you can be! But I remember this time with Hannah went so quickly, and I want cherish our Sissy's newborn snuggles.

6. I often wonder if people are wondering how we afforded Sissy's adoption. Families have babies in seminary all the time, really... if you don't believe me just come for a visit! :) But rarely do families adopt or foster.
I can attest that when God calls you to do something, he will provide. If you're curious about adoption costs, and you're seriously wondering if you can do it too... then please don't hesitate- ask us! We are happy to tell you how God provided for us!

7. AH! We have two little girls!! It is amazing!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This is her story

Last week our lives were turned upside a little baby girl. Sissy came to us in a hurry, and we have fallen madly in love.

But I should back up a little.
In July 2011, I started praying for another child. My heart was set on having another baby, and I also knew that I couldn't go through another pregnancy again. I felt such an intense desire to have a baby, but not one bit of me wanted to be pregnant again. I mentioned the idea of adopting while in seminary to Chris, and quite honestly was surprised by his eagerness. I expected a lot of kickback, because really who adopts in seminary?!

Adoption has always been in our plans. but we never knew when we would be able to adopt. We always assumed we would have to wait. But when the Lord moves, you have to move too...

Over the summer I had talked to a friend who went to seminary in the same city as us, and she mentioned an adoption agency who had placed children with seminary families in the past. I felt the Lord's leading and I went with it. We continued to pray about the timing and the expense of adoption, and in October we believed that it was okay to go forward with an application to a local adoption agency. The next month we started our homestudy. Our case worker told us we could finish our homestudy and be placed on the list within 3-6 months. We tried our best to finish all the paperwork, visits with our case worker, etc etc etc but time passed by and we didn't get approved until June 2012. I started to really stress then because we only had one year left of seminary and only one year to be able to stay with this agency before we moved states. Once we move from here, we would have to start all over again with a new agency and a new homestudy. You can see how doubt creeped in, and I started to wonder if we were doing the right thing.

And then the real waiting began. Weeks, then months passed by with no phone calls, no news of any kind. Then in late August, we started to get phone calls about potential matches. That was some of the hardest waiting we've ever experienced within this whole process. With every call we received about a birthmom who was planning to make an adoption plan, my heart grew more and more restless, more ready to hold and love the baby that God had chosen for our family.

From August to December, we were put forward to 6 birthmoms to look at our family book, and subsquently received 6 phone calls telling us that we were not chosen.
The emotional rollercoaster of these phone calls cannot be put into words. Our hearts longed for our child, the one God was calling to our home, our family. I struggled to hope and struggled to believe that we were following the Lord's leading.

Then... less than two weeks ago, we heard of a birthmom who would be making an adoption plan and we dared to hope again. One whole week passed after receiving the news that she would be looking at our family book. No news. I had gotten so used to receiving the 'no' calls, which come rather quickly, that I didn't know what to do with myself in the waiting. Do I hope? Do I hold back?

Exactly one week after hearing about this birthmom, the phone rang. I shakily answered and heard the voice of our caseworker say hello. Hannah was chatting and following me around the living room as I struggled to hear what she was saying on the line. I heard the word 'selected' and completely lost it. I cried and actually made our caseworker repeat herself. We were chosen! This was it!

For our Sissy's sake, I need to restrain myself from going into all the details (and her real name for now, but I can't wait to tell you all about her name and how we choose it). After all, this story is not just ours. It is Sissy's story. It's her birthmom's story. And we don't have the right to tell all of it.

What I can tell you is that from the time we first knew we were chosen to the day we met and brought home our new daughter- only 44 hours had passed.

We are growing more and more in love by the minute with our sweet girl, and more and more thankful for the sacrifice and love of a woman who gave us the greatest gift on Earth. Sissy is a treasure, and we are soaking in these cuddly newborn snuggles. Hannah Mae is in love with her baby sister, and can't kiss her enough. She loves to show off her baby sister and tell everyone that she's the big sister.
I look down at the content, squeaking baby in my arms and sigh. So this is the child we longed for, this is the one who was meant for our family. She's perfect. She's home.

God has been so faithful to us, and I believe with all that I am (even when I'm struggling) that He will be faithful to us, to Sissy, to her birthmom in the future. I have learned so much in the past year and a half... when God calls, or whispers or moves, we must follow. It doesn't have to make sense to us, we need only trust that he knows what he's doing (and when the doubt creeps in and the anxiety rises, the Holy Spirit intercedes and by his Spirit we can keeping moving forward).

By the way, we hope to be officially official with all our paperwork in six months, which also happens to be when we move on to our next adventure of church planting! Praise the Lord! He is so good!