Friday, December 5, 2014

The Meeting

When we first got the call that we had been chosen by a birth mother (I'll call her K), we learned that she wasn't ready to meet us yet. We were a tad bit disappointed, BUT we could totally understand why she would feel that way. This was a huge decision for her. With it being only 2 months until the birth, the agency let us know it was possible that we may not meet K until the hospital, and in some cases birth mothers even choose to never meet the adoptive parents. So we began to pray for her daily; that she would have peace in her decision, that God would calm her fears, and that we would be able to have an impactful relationship with her.

About three weeks later we got the call that K was ready to meet us! Our agency set the date, which was about 2 weeks away, to meet with our case worker, the pregnancy counselor, and K. Leading up to that was a roller coaster. Some days I was incredibly nervous...what if she doesn't like us? What if we're not the people she thought we were based on our profile book? What if I say something to mess it all up? Other days I was so excited! She was the person carrying our child. She chose us for a reason and we were so thankful for the opportunity to meet her. The closer the day got, the calmer I became.

We headed to Nashville early that morning, exactly one month from her due date. We arrived a tad early and sat in a room by ourselves. K had a doctor's appointment that was running late, so the longer we sat and waited, the more my nerves came back. However, as soon as K walked through the door, they all melted away. I immediately gave K a hug and a bouquet of flowers we brought for her. I said, "These are for you!" She said, "Well, these are for you," and handed me all of her ultrasound photos. That was the first time we saw our daughter. Talk about holding back the tears!!!

We sat down and K began to talk about her doctor's appointment and current state of pregnancy. Her first question for us was if we had chosen a name. For some reason, I was the most nervous about that part of the conversation. We had put a lot of thought into the name Gracen Leigh, but what if she hated it?!? We told her the name and explained how we had landed on it. We wanted Gracen to know about God's grace and faithfulness in our journey to her but we also wanted it to be a reminder to us...that we may never forget that God's grace is why we're parents. He loves us and gives us what we don't deserve. We explained that Leigh is the female version of my dad, my grandfather, and Brett's middle names. It was family name that she would have since she was our family no matter what. The good news is that K loved it!

They told us the meeting would last around 30-45 minutes, but we ended up talking with K for about 1.5 hours! Everything they told us about her was true. She is laid back, talkative, and funny. We got to hear all about her other children and her family. I felt like I was sitting with a friend. She made us laugh and cry throughout the entire conversation!

When asked by the pregnancy counselor why K chose us from our profile book, she gave us several reasons. The first thing out of her mouth was because, even though she was born and raised in Tennessee, she was a huge UK basketball fan! But on a more serious note, she decided to choose a family that couldn't have children. Whey they showed her our book, she said something just stood out to her. She liked us! She said it was important to her to have grandparents who were still married and close by, my job was flexible to be home with Gracen, we had a cute dog (duh!!), and we both had light hair and blue eyes like she does. She put our picture on her phone and thought about if for a few days. She just kept coming back to us. What meant the most to us is when she said, "I am thankful I can give you a gift that you can't give yourself right now. She is your baby, I'm just carrying her for you." Brett and I were both in tears.

Our time with her was awesome! It couldn't have gone better, actually. We were excited at how confident she was in her decision and it helped us feel at peace with everything too. We also found out that day that she was being induced on October 29th and K explained how she wanted us at the hospital to meet Gracen right away and do all the firsts (feeding, diaper change, etc). So, we went home with 29 more days to prepare feeling grateful, blessed, and humbled.

Stay tuned for Gracen's birth day story!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Call

Oh dear! I haven't blogged since December?!? My how things have changed! As most of you know, we just got home yesterday with our daughter, Gracen. We got the call a little over 2 months ago that we had been chosen by a birth mother. Most people around us knew as we were preparing, but we decided not to announce over social media until she was in our arm. Now, it's time to share our story!

August 1st was our one year mark for being a "waiting family," meaning we had been approved and were waiting to be chosen by a birth mother. The year of waiting had it's ups and downs, but for the most part, it was a period of peace and growth. Then the beginning of August hit, and I began to feel antsy. Our agency was saying the average wait time had moved from 12 months to 24 months, so it was disheartening when one year came and we thought it could be another year.

A friend recently decided to begin the adoption process and was asking why our agency wasn't servicing our area anymore. I was pretty sure it was because the Bowling Green office closed and we had been shifted to the Nashville office last August, but I wanted to be sure so I told her I'd message our case worker. I sent her a message on our parent portal and also checked to be 100% sure we were being shown in the office. A lot of things changed right as were approved and since I was getting antsy, I had fears that maybe there was a miscommunication somewhere. I sent the message and went to bed.

The next morning, on August 26th, I was putting on my make-up and getting ready to go to Paducah with my mom for the day, followed by dinner for our friend Maddie's birthday. My phone rang and I saw it was a Nashville number. I figured it was our case worker calling to answer my questions. No big deal.

She said, "I wanted to let you know that your profile book is being shown in the office...and've been chosen by a birth mother!" WHAT?!? These are the words we've been waiting to hear for so long! All I could say was, "NU UH!!!" She laughed and reassured me she was not kidding. We had been chosen by a Nashville birth mother and she was due November 1st. She continued to give me some info and said, "Oh yeah, and it's a baby girl!" I squealed! I've always wanted a girl!

I got off the phone and called Brett. By the time he answered, I was bawling and couldn't even get my words out. He knew exactly what I was calling about! I went down to my parents house to pick up my mom and told them and then got in the car to drive to Paducah. I was on cloud nine all day!

I spent the whole day on the phone calling our closest friends and family. We were hesitant to announce it to everyone at first because so much could happen in those 2 months left of her pregnancy. But at the same time, I didn't want to miss this time of celebration and rejoicing! A very wise friend who had been through a difficult pregnancy told me to celebrate each day until God's gave us a reason not to. So, we did.

We started praying each day for baby girl and her birth mother and girl-ifying the gender neutral nursery. We had fun telling people who had been praying and walking through our journey of infertility and the wait with us. So many joyful tears were shed and I got chills every time I said it out  loud. God's faithfulness was something to rejoice over and it was too hard to keep it quiet! We were amazed at His timing.

We thought we had a name picked out, but once we started thinking about it, I told Brett it just wasn't the one. This baby girl was going to have a story and I wanted her name to have meaning. We started talking about how God's grace and faithfulness was constant, even during our darkest days of this journey. He loves us with abounding grace and gives us the desires of our hearts when we are so we settled on GRACEN. I love it. We can share her story with her and it will be reminder to her and to us of God's unconditional love and provision for us. We decided on Leigh for her middle name because Brett, my dad, and my grandpa all share the middle name Lee, so we just did the feminine version.

Gracen Leigh is a beautiful baby girl and I can't wait to share more of our journey to bringing her home with you over the next few weeks!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How Are You?

I titled this blog post and wrote a sentence almost a month ago. Then I never got around to finishing it. I was ready to sit down and write about the common question that I'm hearing. The one that is said in the sympathetic tone with the facial expression of "I already know the answer."

You know what I'm getting at...right? "How are you?"

We are so blessed to have so many people following our story and walking with us. People that genuinely care and support us every step of the way. I'm so grateful for that. I think most times, people really do want to know how we are. Except it always seems to be asked with such caution. Maybe that's because I've been an emotional mess on and off again for 3.5 years! Or because maybe people understand that the waiting is hard. A lot of people say, "That must be really hard; just sitting and waiting on a phone call." And I really thought it would be.

But I'm totally ok. It feels so good to be able to say that!!

First off, life has been incredibly busy since September. Like probably the busiest I've ever been in my life. While I have been ready to slow down, and thankfully it is, I haven't had much time to even think about anything else besides family, work, friends, church responsibilities, etc. It has kept my mind off of the silence from our agency.

Secondly, this is a big one...I FINALLY laid it at God's feet. For real. To make a long story short, I attended a Christian women's photography retreat/conference in October. It was life changing. You can read more about it on my MLP blog. One night during worship, we we're singing "Oceans" by Hillsong (my new favorite song, you have to listen!) I had heard it before, but never listened very close. As we were singing...there it was. A line in the song that hit me like a ton of bricks.

Your grace abound in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

*lightbulb moment* Why in the world would He bring me this far and then fail me?!?! I'm not sure why it took this long for that to click. I feel like such an idiot. For some reason, at that time and place, singing "You've never failed and You won't start now" was a pivotal moment. He isn't about to start failing now. He isn't going to abandon me. He isn't going to take back His promises. My heart was beating out of my chest as I smiled really big with tears rolling down my cheeks. I hope I never forget that moment. I let go...right then and there. I surrendered it at God's feet and left it there. 

I learned a lot that week and came home different. I never realized how much of a grip our situation had on my life. I feel like I can breathe again. Like literally a load was lifted off my shoulders. Isn't that what God wants for us?! To just let it go and not carry it ourselves. I've never struggled so much with letting something go and trusting God. Deep down I wanted control because I didn't trust His timing or plan. But the peace that comes with fully trusting Him is indescribable! 

A friend sent me a video link to a couple actually getting to meet their adopted son for the very first time. I was hesitant to watch. Sometimes I just have to decide what is healthy for me to view and what will make me emotional. I chose to watch it and oh my goodness! I SOBBED good tears through the whole thing! If you have 9 minutes, watch it:

Something the dad said was, "We prayed for a child, but in our prayers there wasn't a face and there wasn't a name. We just prayed for a child. Just asking God to give us a child. But it wasn't just a child that we were waiting for. It wasn't just a child that God intended to bring into our family. Those years of waiting weren't just because God decided he wanted us to wait an arbitrary number of years or go through an arbitrary experience. All those years, all the waiting, all the prayers were for him. For our son."

How beautiful! I was thankful for the reminder. Brett and I (and so many other people) are praying for our child. The one God has intended for our family. The one He will give us the privilege of raising. How beautiful!

So...I'm totally ok. I'm ok during this silence. I'm ok during this waiting period. Thank you for taking time to read my heart and thank you for joining us on this ride. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

I'm Torn

Due to some changes among the agency we're using for the adoption, we are now a waiting family in their Nashville office and we have a new case worker. Although we haven't been able to meet her, she has been awesome at keeping in touch with us and encouraging us by email.

She recently sent out a message with a small devotional to some of the waiting families who have experienced infertility. As I read it, something sparked some feelings within me, which has then started a string of tears, emotions, and long talks. One paragraph started like this...

"Infertility can really take a toll on your life. It can consume every waking moment, every thought, every interaction. You may find that you are surviving trials that you never would have imagined you were strong enough to conquer."

What a way to summarize the past three years. It took a toll on my life. As much as I tried to not let it consume my every waking moment, thought, and did. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time in our bedroom floor, the bathroom at church, the back of the sanctuary at weddings as the pastor talked to my couples about the children they will eventually raise, in my car, at the dinner table, and at my desk when I was suppose to be working. It took a toll and I'm a different person for it. 

The thing is...I hope I'm a better person because of it. In the middle of the battle, you don't ever see how you'll be better by it. But when I stop and think about how much my faith has grown and what God has taught me through it all, I realize I've come really far. I have probably been pretty bad at being a wife, daughter, and friend but thankfully I have amazing people in my life who have put up with me! ;) 

While thinking about how much I've grown and how quickly everything has happened with the adoption process, a friend helped me realize that I probably haven't actually "grieved" about the fact that I will not be giving birth to my child (my first one at least). Just like you grieve over losing someone you love, I have realized that I need to grieve over my loss..the loss of conceiving, carrying, and birthing my child. I am a woman. That's what I was made to do. It's a major part of womanhood and as of right now, I have to accept that it's not happening for me and it may never happen. That's the hardest thing to let go of. As happy as I am to adopt and follow God's plan for our lives, I have lately struggled with letting go of having my own biological child. 

So, here I am. I'm torn. I am ECSTATIC to be adopting! We are learning so much about raising an adopted child and sharing it's story of adoption and unconditional love with him/her throughout life. We have incredible support in our lives and we know without a shadow of doubt this is what we're suppose to be doing. I can't wait to meet the baby, our baby, that God has for our family. But at the same time, I'm grieving a loss. I know God is the One who gives peace and He is faithful, so I am trusting He will help me let go and rest in Him. I'm smiling as I type that because it is TRUTH!

Our case worker ended her message by saying that she hopes we recognize the beauty that is our story. We haven't had an easy three's definitely been full of heartache, pain, and sadness. But I'm confident that we have and will continue to experience redemption in this. His faithfulness and goodness is amazing! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waiting Time

Well...after all the paper work, home visits, interviews, video trainings, letters, recommendations, background checks, finger prints, praying, talking, laughing, and crying.....we are approved! As of last week, we officially became a "waiting family." Hooray!!!

This means we're in the pool to be chosen by a birthmother. We don't know how long the wait will be. It could be a few months, it could be a could be more than a year. I don't look forward to the wait and I've never been good with patience, but I'm so thankful to be here where we are. And thankfully, I married the most patient person I've ever known ;)

We've had fun working on the nursery! I don't want to show you too many photos until I have the bedding and it's more complete, but here's a sneak peek!

Brett found me some scrap wood that he pieced together and I painted this for sweet baby. :)

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive through this process thus far and for understanding when our lives have been crazy! Now it's just time to wait. Ugh, such a difficult thing! But while we wait, please join us in praying for a few things:

-Pray for the baby that will become ours and change our lives forever. God already knows our child and that is so incredible.

-Pray for the birth mother that will choose us. We are so thankful that she will be choosing life for her child and will be giving us the biggest blessing we may ever receive.

-Pray that something about us will touch her heart and she will choose us because she trusts we will be suitable parents for her baby.

-Pray for us as we prepare to become adoptive parents.

-Pray that God will continue to provide for us financially through this process.

So, here we go...We're just waiting. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

We've been busy!

It's been a while since I've blogged...sorry about that! Things have been extremely busy! Since the last time I've blogged we have finished all three of our home study visits. That's right, folks! Within a few weeks our case worker visited our home twice and we traveled to Bowling Green once for individual interviews. It moved a lot quicker than we thought and everything went smoothly.

I've realized when talking with friends that I use too much adoption lingo and if you or a close friend haven't been through the process, then you don't understand what I'm talking about. Oops! I learned a lot of my lingo through Monica & Chandler on "Friends," which I expect you've seen...just probably not as much as I have ;)

Anyway...home study visits are very relaxed meetings with our case worker. Like I said, two of them were at our home. We cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more to have our house sparkly. I was a bit anxious at first but as soon as our case worker arrived we were reminded there was nothing to be nervous about. We feel so comfortable with him so it really helps the process! In between the two home visits we met in the Bowling Green office for individual interviews. Basically our case worker just got a lot of information from each of us about our past (everything leading up to marriage). We were very surprised and excited with how quickly this all took place.

Shortly after our third home visit, we left for Florida. It was a recent decision to get away and relax for a bit. As excited as we were about this part of the process moving quickly, it has all fallen in the middle of wedding season and a busy time for Brett at work. Life has just been incredibly busy. For as cheap as possible, we escaped to the beach. The two of us don't get to relax together very often so it came at a much needed time! I'm so thankful for that week. Brett and I laid on the beach and had plenty of time to talk, read, laugh, and dream about the future. Ahhh...doesn't that sound so nice?!? It went by too quickly!

Anyway, now we're waiting for our case worker to write up our home study. Once that is approved, we'll officially be in the waiting pool to be chosen by a birth mother. We don't know how long that wait will could be a few months, it could be 1+ years. We are beginning to purchase furniture for the nursery since we won't know an exact time we will be chosen. Once a birth mother has picked us, things move pretty quickly so we want to have the nursery ready for the baby's arrival. I'm having fun with this...of course I've been dreaming of a nursery for 3 years now! It's exciting to finally be making a room in our home for a baby!

We bought some furniture at Ikea and thankfully it fit in our Escape!

In the mean time, we are finishing up some training videos and working on our profile book. This is the book the birth mother will look at to decide if we're the right family for her baby. No pressure, right?!? I've actually been sitting in front of my computer for 5 hours tonight trying to decide where to start. You would think this would be easy for a photographer!!

Well, that's where we are right now! It's been a whirlwind of events the past few months, but things will slow down soon and then we'll be in the silent waiting period. We are still in awe of the way God continues to confirm this is the right thing for us. We are still blown away by the support and excitement we have received by people...some we don't even know! God is so good. In the thick of my sadness and frustration I sometimes felt like things would never move forward. But God redeems and LOVES us. I've been excited to experience that in a new way.

Can't wait to tell you more as things progress!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quick Update

We have been totally blown away by the excitement, support, prayers, and messages we have received from everyone! Seriously...sometimes I'm moved to tears by the overwhelming love we've been shown.     We've received cards, Facebook messages, and even a few baby gifts and I can't run into anyone we know without being congratulated! Actually, due to word of mouth, I even meet people we don't know who congratulate us! We've been able to hear about people's excitement and passion for adoption and even a few stories of other couple's infertility journeys. I even met an adoptive mother in the gym who shared her story with me! I've have always believed that God brings people along in your life that can walk with you through the season your in and I've found it to be true again. I'm thankful for such amazing people who are walking through this with us!

Anyway, I said this was a quick update, so I'll fill you in! All of our paper work has been turned in, our references have sent back their papers, and our record, background checks and fingerprints are complete. We're just waiting for our agency to process everything so we can move on to the home study visits. Of course, we're ready to get the ball rolling but we're trying to be patient! Brett is so much better at this than me!

Thanks for checking in and staying updated on our adoption journey. We still have a long way to go but we are so grateful for you and your encouragement!

PS--We did some photos with our friend, Dianne, last night! I made this for a few of them. Pics coming soon!