Choose Joy….Always

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I really shouldn’t post those teasers like I do!! Not only because you guys start bringing out the heavy artillery to heave my way but because I get myself 10 shades of flustered trying to finally blog about it!! All I keep thinking is OUR GOD IS SOOOOOOOOO GOOD…and a bit of an antagonists if I do say so myself!!

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As you all know by now I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Choose Joy conference in Laguna Hills, California last weekend. I have already blogged about the breakthroughs that took place in my personal journey and the surrendering that took place with my Father in Heaven. It was a BIG weekend!! I came home and announced my stubbornness and my willingness to be obedient. Months ago I promised Him I would go where he called me to go and I had failed at keeping that promise. But Wednesday, as I poured into my blog (a really long blog by the way, I apologize for that) I was truly telling Him, “Okay….I am yours….I will listen now”. And I woke up feeling better than I had felt in months. A weight was lifted. I physically and spiritually knew that I had laid my burden at my Father’s feet. I was trusting Him to play out His plan in His time. And then Friday came………..

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I received a message from a friend (an Instagram friend, so very much a real life friend) on Monday, while in the airport, about her Florida agency in need of adoptive families. I thanked her for sharing but told her we were looking into other options. I received yet again another message from that same friend on Friday saying that her agency had posted about 2 immediate situations in need of families. Yet again, I thanked her for the information but disregarded it. I offered to call and get the information to share with all of my amazing 1,700 followers/family/friends. And I did. I learned of a 1-year old in need of a forever family. I learned of the details, the financial obligations, and the legal process. When I offered to share this with FB & IG the agency director simply said she didn’t have time to wait, she needed families to present immediately and would we consider sending in our profile. Wait…What?! No..no..no..You misunderstood. I’m not calling for me. We’re adopting from Uganda. I’ve already told you that. God has already told me that. I AM BEING OBEDIENT DANG IT!!!! I awkwardly tried to skirt around the question, asking if she had any other information about the mother or the child. It was a dead end. She could only tell me 2 things. The child’s name and the mother’s name. She mentioned we could even change the child’s name if we would like. (Why is she telling me this?! I don’t want to know this)

Without asking, she then said, I…KID…YOU….NOT, “The Mother’s name is Joy”.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING GOD?!?!? I just surrendered?!! I just promised my obedience!! I even googled airplane tickets to Uganda!! And within 48 hours…THIS?! Is this Satan dangling a carrot? Is this you rewarding my obedience? Show me…Tell me…I am listening.

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I laid in bed Friday night asking that same question over and over again. It was after 11:00pm when I received this message from ANOTHER Instagram friend that felt God was telling her to help our family. She wanted to put on an InstaSale and donated 100% of the proceeds to our adoption. I wept! Well, I slapped my husband out of his sleep first but then I continued to weep. I laid there and I kept thinking, “Choose Joy, Nikki…With everything in you Choose Joy”.

Saturday morning came……….and so did a $750 donation from someone I have never met, never spoken to, and doesn’t know our full story, yet she knew that we are all in this as one big family unit. She wanted to help us complete our family the same way she had completed hers. Talk about “Go Be Love”…..That new friend of mine is radiating God’s love more than she will ever know.

And yet it gets even better…..At this point God is throwing stuff at me as well! As I am calling my husband to tell him the amazing news (and yes, still bawling like a baby getting their vaccines) I get an email, from a bride, asking to meet, to sign a contract and pay her October wedding fee!! Satan is getting stomped out left and right. God is making his presence known in a majestic way. It consumed me. I knew right then and there. I chose Joy, and Joy was going to choose me.

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A…To….The….Men!!!!!! Enough said!

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We had the opportunity to go out on a date night, and we took it. It was perfection. The weather was amazing, live music rolled down the brick paved streets of St. Augustine, and my handsome Hubs was affectionately attentive. It wasn’t until halfway through the night I remembered, the last time we had a date night we got a call about Sydney. That shook me to my core. Could I handle another ‘no’. Was I ready to be shattered when I finally felt so whole again? What if she does say no. What if I am one of those crazy women that says, “This is my child, I just KNOW it”……and then the fear took over. The fear of defeat and disappointment, and in effort of embracing my craziness, the fear of being wrong. I truly felt, even though I knew nothing about this child other than their name, this was my child.

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So we waited…….and waited……and then I threw a little teaser out so you could wait impatiently with us….and then we ALL waited.

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At 12:39pm today we received the news. Joy…Chose…US!!!!!!!

And at 11:00 tomorrow, we get to meet the newest addition of our family.

AND, if all goes well, it will be legally sound as of Friday.

Now, let’s all have a freak out moment together!!!!!!!!!

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SHE CHOSE US TO BE HER CHILD’S FOREVER HOME!!! She loved us. She loved our home, our family ties, our christian values. We were everything she wanted her child to have. And all is well with my soul, because she is PLACING her child in my arms. She did not abandon! She is not walking away! And she is most definitely not giving up. She loves her child in such a way that she is making the most unselfish and loving decision she will ever make. I am honored. I am so blessed. I have loved this woman and prayed for this woman. And we shall have an open adoption that will allow me to continue doing so.

Now…..FREEEEEEEEAKING OUT is the understatement of the century!!! We are not where we need to be financially. We need YOU!! We need our village to come together to help make us this child’s forever family!! Will you?! Will you consider even $1.00? $5.00? $10.00. Again, in efforts of always being completely open and honest we are short quite a bit. We are lacking $9,000 and we need it by Friday! Craziest part of all of this, is I’m not worried. God has made it MORE than obvious that His hands are all over this.

And as you have obviously noticed. I have not shared the details of Joy and her beautiful child. Yes, I have pictures, I know the gender, name, and birthday, and I am dying to share but we are going to keep them to ourselves just a little bit longer. I will share. I promise. But for now, we pray. We fundraise. And we watch God do his work!

 

If you would like to donate to help bring our Starfish home you can do one of the two following things.

1.) PayPal directly to HeartGrownBabyLove@yahoo.com as ‘friends/family’ so no fees are taken out by PayPal.

-or-

2.) Click on this link for a debit/credit card donation and we will happily cover the fees.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=B6GUZGLS4JSUQ

Adopt Together

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It with with the most humbled hearts that we have been accepted and have begun our online profile fundraising account with AdoptTogether. You can read more about our hearts for adoption and current status of the process. AdoptTogether.org is a project of Hoping Hearts Foundation Inc, a federally recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Therefore, your donation would be tax-deductible. We do not take a single dime for granted, please know we pray daily over the plan God has set out for us and we trust Him to provide accordingly! Sending all of our love to all of you! 

https://www.adopttogether.org/searchingforourstarfish

 

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First Time For Everything

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I never saw myself writing this post. Mainly because I NEVER like to admit when I am wrong, because come on….I am never wrong. Don’t believe me?? Go ahead, ask Kelsey, he knows better than to say any different. Well, maybe don’t ask him right now. Right now he is gloating….just a little. When I first realized the error of my ways my first thought was, “Crap….now I have to tell Kelsey he was right!” <—-<< THAT most definitely never happens. He won’t say it, but he is loving every second of it.

As I contemplated how to begin this, as I attempted to organize my thoughts I kind of expected to be apologetic. I thought I would have to explain myself or make others understand. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell you not to worry about others opinions, we all still do it. It’s human nature at it’s worst. But as I sit here and type with no outline before me, I will not apologize because I don’t feel anything needs to be explained. For the first time in forever (totally busted out the Frozen soundtrack right there) I am beyond thrilled to share this news with you. Today is easily the best I have felt in months! This morning I woke up with the clarity I had been praying…no…begging God for. But before I can give you the grand reveal….I have a few confessions to make.

When I started this blog it was for me. I wanted a place to come back to so I could remember each step of our journey. I am so humbled by the blessing each of you have given me by following along, encouraging and praying for us. Every comment, message, text, and email has truly fed my soul. But I do owe you an apology. I have not been 100% honest with you. Even worse, I have not been honest with myself. So today’s blog is an attempt to rectify that. I want every step to be out in the open. There are certain levels of fear that comes with having such intimate details being laid out in such a way so go easy on me. (Seriously Kelli…NO more tomatoes)

So, you all know our story. We are a married couple that have seen both good and bad. We have two amazing daughters that bless our socks off on a daily basis. In one year we have experienced a miscarriage, failed placement, and failed adoption. We are biologically capable of having more children however adoption was plan ‘A’ for us. I first knew and publicly confessed that I would adopt one day when I was only 17. I was always amazed by it,  very curious about all of it, and I felt very strongly that I would one day travel the world rescuing children that never knew what it meant to belong to something permanent. We are unapologetically christians and even when the Devil throws water at our flame our God throws in another match. This past weekend I was given the privilege to fly to the other side of our country to attend Choose Joy. (I am fully aware of how many pictures I posted letting you know of just how amazing my trip was) but what I didn’t post was the reality of what I was facing. Nor did I realize what that one trip would do for me, my faith, and my family. And you are also all aware of the fact that we have recently ended the relationship with our agency. Who remembers me mentioning a bomb that my dear old hubby dropped on me?! Anyone?! Oh, just you wait…that part is coming too!

See, what you don’t know is that our journey has had a recent twist, an unexpected road block would probably be a better way to say it. I didn’t share this part with you because quite frankly, I thought it was irrelevant. Over the past couple of months I have been seeing my OBGYN and a few specialists due to complications that I assumed were miscarriage related. It was the only thing that made sense. I began some testing the week before we got the call about Sydney so naturally everything was put on hold. Upon returning home I kind of ignored it. God has a funny way of getting our attention, doesn’t he? I felt this nagging need to pick up where I left off so I called back in and got the ball rolling. I won’t waste your time with all of the gory details but I had to have a full list of tests ran that included just about everything down to my hair count being done. The results: Well…..that’s the confusing part. They simply can’t explain it. I have been diagnosed as 1. vitamin d deficient (easily corrected) and 2. unexplainable progesterone deficient. Every single inch of my body is thriving, healthy and just as it should be, except the one thing I need to biologically create a healthy child. Now…remember up above…adoption is plan ‘A’…remember?! This shouldn’t be a problem. But, the devil has a way of making it a problem. My initial reaction was, “Ok..no big deal…we weren’t trying anyways” but then the fears sank in, the anger began to take over. I slowly and very annoyingly realized, “This should be MY choice” and “This isn’t supposed to be a part of MY story” I was more angry that the choice had been taken away from me than I was that I couldn’t get pregnant without medical intervention.

Now, with this being said, I feel the need to go back a little. Just a little, I promise. I need to take you back to the day before I discovered we could no longer work with our agency. It was on a Wednesday, I had a loooooong conversation over the phone with my dear tomato throwing friend, Kelli (I was drinking coffee and I am sure she was drinking sweet tea) and I was truly unraveling. I was tired, lost for direction, praying for clarity and throwing down a whole bunch of “what if’s”. I started questioning if I was on the right path. Maybe I was the problem. I told her I felt like God had left me, as it was silent in every direction I looked for Him. For over a month, every since I lost Sydney, it was a deafening type of silent. I was losing all motivation, considering a nice long break from it all….I just wanted to stop. She encouraged me the best she knew how but it just wasn’t enough. I wouldn’t have admitted it to the Hubby at the time but I stayed in that recliner for over 2 hours. Talking to a God that had stopped talking to me. He didn’t have much to say but with everything in me He was going to hear all of my thoughts. My exact prayer went a little something like this, “God…You know I am stubborn…You made me this way…Deal with me” I knew that in order for me to ‘get it’ He was going to have to hit me over the head with a brick. “Lord, throw a brick already”. 

Fast forward maybe 18 hours later and the bricks came flying!! First, I learned (on accident I might add) that our relationship with our facilitator was strictly prohibited in the state of Florida and we received legal advice to end it immediately before any placement took place.

Fast forward again about 8-9 hours later and again…….brick!! We had just walked out of church, after learning the above, when we sit down to dinner and the Husband sucker punched me in the baby maker. Okay, not literally, but he might as well have. I kid you not when I say I would have been less shocked if he had admitted to an affair. My husband is a Christian. A solid man of God that is truly leading our family for the first time. In the 13 years I have known this man child he has NEVER said the words “God told me” or “God is leading me” to do ANYTHING!!! He actually began the conversation with, “Okay, so I need to tell you something but I need you not to freak out on me” (this is about the time I loaded the gun and started sharpening the knives) He continued, “I’m not asking you to change your mind, and I’m not saying this is what we have to do” (brass knuckles are on) “I have wanted to tell you this but I wasn’t sure how” (nun chucks are swinging) “Babe, for the last month (did you get that, the last MONTH) I feel like God has been talking to me. He has been putting this on my heart and I have tried to ignore it, I thought maybe it was just me so I kept pushing it down. Yesterday (Hear that part too?? The same day I was begging) I asked God for some type of confirmation. He had to made it obvious that it was Him talking and not just me trying to fix things. But tonight, at church, it was like a growing tightness in my chest. I couldn’t keep it in anymore. It was more painful to keep it suppressed than it is just to get it out” >>—-> Now wives…..Please tell me at this point in a conversation like this, would your husbands even be able to BREATH with your foot clamped down on their throats?!? GET IT OUT ALREADY, MAN!!!!!!! (good grief). “God is telling me we are supposed to adopt from **** in ******” (I can’t ruin the surprise this early in the blog)

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaby Daddy, say what?!?!?!

No…Absolutely not….Don’t even start! We have spent 13 months applying, fundraising, saving, and searching for THIS adoption. No sir. Save it. Not today. Was he kidding me with this mess?!? This was a joke right?! Come on out Ashton!

So being the good obedient wife I am, I said no.

So we move on, move forward……yes?? Not so much!!

The days continued to pass, I sought wise counsel from those that have walked before me, but more than that…I whined, I complained, I think I even stomped my feet a couple of times. And, you can forget about me praying for it. I knew what I wanted. I knew what my heart was telling me. I knew what was best. So I moved on. (Notice all of those I’s…Yea, I will apologize for that later….keep reading)

So, let’s return to the recent past. Choose Joy 2014 arrived. I couldn’t wait to see the faces of all of the amazing women that had become friends through a social media app. Women that had stood in the gap for me when I just couldn’t bare another second of heartache. But, let it be known, I came with my own agenda as well. I was going to reenergize, I was going to show my husband just how wrong he was. I was coming back a newly charged and on fire momma ready to attack THIS adoption all over again. He would see!! He would look so silly when he saw just how right I was. I attended 3 breakaway sessions, I will give you the cliff notes of each. The 1st — Breadcrumbs from God. I loved this one, it related to everything I had already been experiencing. Those little moments where God says, “I’m still here….I am right here with you”. I like breadcrumbs. The 2nd — The good, bad, and ugly of International adoptiion. This one was okay. I had heard all of that statistics before. I have always loved international adoption. It was actually what I always through I would do based on what I felt adoption was. Truly rescuing a child that suffered a grave future. So that was easy, I was in and out of that one. The last — The good, bad, and ugly of domestic adoption. (Here we go…This is what I am talking about) This…one….WRECKED….me!! It was all about her failed adoption. Every single detail mimicked our loss of Sydney. I sat in my little corner of the group and I sobbed. That really ugly cry, you know that one that comes with a surprise snot session. So sexy, let me tell you, that was me at my finest. SEE!! I told you!!! How could I be so wrecked if I wasn’t supposed to be doing this. I obviously cared SOOOOOOO much!! God was at work…I just couldn’t quite yet see how. 

Keep reading…..We are almost there!!

Choose Joy is one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of. Did you know that @ItsJustEmmy (Find her on IG, she’s rad) raised and gave away $7,000 to one lucky attendee. She also gave away an acupuncture package, a free consultant package with my favoritest consultant agency ever, AND a fundraiser package. Did I mention, I begged God to let me win. Not because I felt I deserved it more than anyone else in that room but mainly because I wanted to be right so I could shove it in my Hubby’s handsome face! But, I lost….and…I was…MAD!! Please understand, I was THRILLED for the winners. I think God knew exactly what he was doing. Did I mention how much I hate bring wrong?! Anyways..moving on! Over the remainder of the night I was allowed to casually share information learned, casual conversations turned into in depth discussions, and before I knew it I was painfully sobbing (yes,again) through a forced laughter in the parking lot. Little by little I was starting to see the error of my ways and it scared me. I refused it. I seriously told myself I was crazy and I may or may not have had some wine and yummy blackberry cider before bedtime. Morning came and I had to say goodbye to my new and forever friends. I was given the opportunity to lay in my hotel bed, staring at the ceiling (oh, and guess what, this hotel room had a ceiling fan! Love it) and it was then, at that very moment, that I surrendered. I physically, emotionally, and spiritually couldn’t carry this burden anymore. I visualized myself laying at His feet, asking God to take it. Asking Him to take over. I will once again commit to His will. I had this clarifying moment of Jesus. Right before he is taken to the cross Jesus begged, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Who am I to hold on to what ‘I’ want?! How dare I?? Am I really that shallow and self absorbed that I should ask God to give me MY wishes when His plan is always greater?! No more. I am His and He is mine.

Guys, I can’t in all good conscious come to you and tell you that the road will be easy. Heck, I’m still mid journey so I can’t say much at all. Heck, I’m still mid journey so I can’t say much at all. But what I can tell you, is that for over a month I have been tired, sick, moody, and just wanted to give up. I couldn’t hear God because I was throwing too big of a fit! I thought I was fighting the typical struggle of the journey but in reality I was fighting God’s superior plan for me. I can’t promise much of anything but I can testify to the power of God’s work. I needed a village and He took me. I HATED Choose Joy. It was AWFUL!!!!!! It didn’t give me what I wanted, but it gave me exactly what I NEEDED! I spent Sunday with two phenomenal women that love their families and are obedient to God’s calling. In a very short period of time they fed my soul, I believe they were the foundation for what was coming. I woke up Monday morning and guys….I could hear him again….I felt his presence surround me and I was energized, but for a different mission.

I arrived to the airport 3 hours early, what should have been an inconvenience was in fact again God’s work. During the international meeting I was given a book. A book that I have been wanting for close to a year and just never made the effort to acquire. If you haven’t read “Adopted for Life” get your hands on it….QUICK!! Before I opened it I had a little one on one time with the Big Man upstairs. I asked that if this was truly Him talking then please speak louder. I wanted to believe that He had not abandoned me, so please, speak louder so my stubborn heart can hear. These were the words I heard, that I wrote, before I even cracked open to the first page. 

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And then I began. I go back and look at what I read and I can’t explain the emotions. The absolute turmoil that was resonating in my gut, heart, and apparently behind my eyeballs because the flood gates opened. I sat in a small corner of the airport (next to an outlet of course) and I silently wept. I knew what God had called me to do when I was only 17 years old but I allowed my fears, excuses, and the pain of a miscarriage sway me. I admit, I let the loss of an infant send me on the journey for an infant. My heart knew differently and my God knew better. And with surrender comes victory. 

I am here to admit, to each of you and still very reluctantly to my Husband. He was right. I was wrong. God is pulling my husband to the forefront, He was speaking clearly to my Hubs so that he could be the leader of his family. Tonight, I admitted what they already knew. Tonight we began our new journey to bringing our Starfish home.

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Surprise! :-)

Burst Your Own Bubble

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Who here hates airports?? The crowd…the rush…the smells…the waiting?! It’s terrible isn’t it?? Such a pain!

Yea, I am totally lying right now. I love them. Not only do I love them, I am IN love with them. Do you remember when we were kids and your friends would say, “if you love it so much why don’t you just marry it?” If I could, I would.  Airports may be one of my favorite places to be. I am an avid people watcher, and not just for the typical oddities you are guaranteed to witness. I find joy in watching others as they navigate their own lives. Ever notice we live in our own bubbles? We get OUR coffee so we can get on OUR plane that will take us to OUR final destination. Something about the way I am wired doesn’t work that way. Don’t misunderstand, I can have road rage with the best of them, but in airports…..I am different. I am on an adventure. An adventure that requires my ipod on and earbuds in because every great adventure has a soundtrack, right? I am never in a hurry, I like the feeling of the burst of air that hits me as people speed by me. (Airport runners are HILARIOUS!! It’s not really a run, more of a quick shuffle with their rolling suitcases fumbling behind! Oh God, I love that part!) I’m never in a rush, I prefer to be the last one on the plane. For two reasons, but the selfish one being if I am last on the plane it’s pretty much guaranteed my carry-on won’t fit and they will check it to my final destination for FREE!! (Come on, admit it…that’s genius)  The smells?? Well, the smells come and go…some good…some not so good. Call me weird if you like, but I like that part too. I don’t mind the wait. Waiting comes with life (wow, maybe adoption really was meant for me. #ImAProAtWaiting). Take a look around next time you are in an airport, there is so much life. People from all over the world traveling to places all over the world. In very few places can you find both grief and glee. People saying goodbye while others embrace hellos. You will find kids of all ages, some flying for the very first time. The excitement that comes in a child’s eyes as they get to sit in the window and watch the planes take off and land….Man, that gets me every time! 

This post has no real point. It has nothing to do with my faith, our adoption, or even my life. I just wanted to share the moment. I wanted to challenge you to do the same. I have only been traveling for about 4 hours and already I have met an elderly couple that have the exact same departure and destination as me. In one quick skytrain ride we talked about careers, adoption, and God.  I have been very aggressively complimented on my country accent (What accent?!). While everyone fights to find a seat with a charging station I watched a young girl give up their spot so an elderly couple could sit together. I love it. All of it. Next time you are traveling take a look around. Don’t get lost in your bubble, there is a big ol’ world right in front of you. :)

I have to go now. They are calling our flight to board and the lady next to me wants to read my blog as I type. Now that I think of it, maybe I will sit here a little longer! #WinkyFace

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Hurry Up….and Wait

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“Can’t wait for your exciting announcement that you referenced last week!” <—— Ummmm….I hate to disappoint but I have none. zero. nilch. nada. nunca. In fact, I have less than nothing. What would be less than nothing?? In a way, we are back at day 1! 

The past week and a half have been like no other. Let me preface this by saying I believe with all of my heart and soul that adoption is joyous! It is wonderful, amazing, to be celebrated. But…the process….it’s just a big ol’ exhausting butthead that waits to tackle you even after the final whistle has been blown. Outside of my newest sewing sessions (aka obsession), blogging has been my mental and emotional outlet. It’s the place I can fall apart without fear (or care) of judgement. In the past I have apologized for the randonmness and hot mess of an outline but tonight I offer no apologies. Tonight, I am tired. I am not defeated or giving up. I have not lost faith or sight of the treasure at the end of the rainbow. I am simply taking rest. Seeking shelter in the cool breeze of the shadows. Save the scripture, cliche’s, and quotes….I’ve read ‘em all….twice. Just sit with me, won’t you? Pour a glass of sweet tea, kick up your feet, and let’s enjoy the silence together. (Oh…and there will be no spell checking today either)

I want to make this blog interesting. I would love to think I have you on the edge of your seat just waiting for all of the dirty details…..Again….not happening. I would absolutely love to be inspirational and full of ‘umph’…..nope….don’t have that either. This is actually my THIRD attempt to complete this ONE blog so I’m just going to lay it out for you, bullet style.

** Two weeks ago Kelsey and I became aware of a law that prevents Florida residents from completing legal adoptions through a facilitator. We questioned it. Doubted it. And then unfortunately, with the help of 7 different attorneys we verified it. What does that have to do with us, you ask? Our agency…The agency that we hired…that has been working to find us a birth mother…is a facilitator.

For those that don’t know: (don’t worry, we didn’t know either when we began)

Adoption Agencies are licensed by the State Department of Social Services or the State Department of Youth and Family Services to provide adoption services to birthparents and adoptive families. This usually includes counseling and other support services. (and include a much higher upfront cost)

Facilitators often present themselves as adoption agencies, but they do not provide the necessary adoption services that agencies and attorneys do; they only link families with a baby. (less costs upfront, pay placement fees to outside agency/attorney)

With that being said….We were in BIG trouble!! What do we do now? How do we move forward knowing the facts? We couldn’t ethically use our agency, it just didn’t feel right. When we began our journey it was to join two families in open communication, honesty, and love. How could we do that with this type of information staring back at us?? It took many phone calls, one amazing attorney who stood by our side the entire time, and tons of prayer. Even though we knew an placement COULD happen, did we really want it to? Luckily I am married to a man that wants to end this journey the same way we began it, with honest and pure intent. So with that being said, we ended our relationship with our agency. We have zero ill feelings, they worked tirelessly for us and believed they could find our birthmother. But we agreed to disagree.

** Almost immediately after the dissolution of one relationship we began building new ones. We were invited to a very last minute dinner that brought us face to face with other amazing adoptive couples that are in the crossroads of their journey. We are all standing at a fork in the road and too afraid to take the first step into a brand new path. Oddly enough this brought a little bit of clarification. It clarified that NOTHING in this journey is predictable, easy, or clear. It’s the extreme opposite, chaotic, hard, and foggy.

** I’m not ready to share the bomb that the husband dropped in the midst of all of this. It’s the kind of news that leaves you a little dazed. You know that scene in the movie where the actress kind of goes blank standing in the middle of the screen, yet the world continues to move around her. The sounds blend together causing one loud humming blur of noise. Yea…That’s me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good bomb, it could definitely bring much joy to our lives but it’s something only stirring in his heart right now so for now we will pray for clarification and direction. 

** So at this point we are trying to decide, what’s next. And in all honesty, we don’t really know. It’s like everything in adoption says Hurry…Hurry…Hurry….But now you have to wait! We know we are still on the path to adoption, just trying to find the path we are meant to take our next step towards. We are in talks with a couple of different licensed agencies but with that comes more financial demand. We continue to share our desire to adopt by word of mouth. But for right now, for just for a minute, we are choosing to catch our breath. I have found myself in survival mode. I am lacking motivation, energy, and desire. My heart is hurting. It’s seeking God’s clear voice and yet I am surrounded in silence. I desperately need a moment to step away and reevaluate. 

I have been blessed with the most amazing opportunity. Tomorrow morning I am boarding a plane that will take me from the East Coast to the West Coast for the sake of adoption. I get to spend the weekend surrounded by over 100 women that are seeking the same guidance, support, and shadows that I am. It couldn’t have come at a better time. (wanna know more? http://choosejoyevent.blogspot.com/)

I don’t mean to sound whiny or like my burden is bigger than anyone else’s. My burden is simply that….mine. In one year I have experienced a miscarriage, a failed placement, and a failed adoption. I have found so much joy, so much love, soooo many new friends, and yet still so much pain. So, I’m not done…I am way too stubborn for that. I’m not giving up…Everyone knows I refuse to lose. I am just tired…and if you know me well you know I love a good nap. So the next 6 days are going to be my nap. I am going to rest up, rejuvenate, and come back ready to tear down some more walls.

You don’t have to tell me my God’s got me…..I know He does! He is mine and I am His.

 

I find peace in the crash of the waves. The silence that comes right as it settles near the sand is quickly disturbed by the shattering sound of the next wave meeting the shore. It is never ending. Predictable. I find calm in the birds flying over me. They don’t bring burden with their search for food and I do not hinder their quest. When I need Jesus, I know where to find Him. I seek Him by name and He knows me by heart. -N.C.

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This Little Light of Mine

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THIS….IS….HARD!!

I can’t speak for everyone. There is no denying that blogs are the independent views of the writers so just keep that in mind as I spew all over the page today.

Adoption is simply hard today. It’s defeating and heavy and IT…TAKES…FOREVER!!! Satan is at work in my head. He is dropping in his little lies that deflect my attention toward God.

He is telling me things like,

1…This is just TOO big for us.

2…This is NEVER going to happen.

3…We should have done this…that…or this…or maybe that…instead of this.

4…Who are WE to ask OTHERS for THEIR $$ to help US??

5…We don’t HAVE to do this.

On day 1 I promised to be open, truly open and vulnerable during this experience. My goal was to share our experience while hopefully educating others who were considering beginning their own adoption journey. Today is not a day of rainbows and lollipops. In continued effort of being honest I have to say all 5 of these things have haunted me day and night this past week. When they each come up individually I can suppress them, I can place them at God’s feet and keep moving forward. But when all 5 show up at the same flippin time….I don’t handle it as gracefully.

1…This IS too big for us, but it’s not too big for our God. <—I do know this in my heart of hearts so I won’t go any further.

2…It has been eleven montths. We have had a failed match and a failed attempt at adoption. It has been ELEVEN months! I will NEVER say our journey is harder than anyone else’s and I know for a fact that our journey is a cake walk to some. But this is my journey and my pain, I process it the best that I can. Pain is Pain. Loss is Loss. And impatience…..well impatience is just a trait born to all sinners.

3….There are so many opinions on foster, domestic, and infant adoption. Everyone chooses one of the three for a very specific reason to them individually. I won’t even begin to compare the 3 because they are all uniquely beautiful in their own way. I know why we chose domestic and I stand firm in that reason BUT I am also tormented by the what if’s or what if it never. I catch myself saying, we should have gone international. We should have fostered first. We should have……

4…UGH!! This one might be one of the two worst. It doesn’t matter how much scripture you throw at me or home many couples have been there/done that and continue to encourage us, this part is one of the hardest!!! Kelsey and I have had jobs from the day we turned 16. We have paid our way through everything from day 1. We don’t have debt, we don’t spend money on extravagant cars or vacations. We have old minivans with aftermarket parts and live by the beach so we get FREE STAYcations. Our biggest thrill is Thursday night family dinner’s with friends & kids….and that’s only because it’s $1.00 beer/$1.00 pizza night AND soccer practice just happens to be one mile away. But yet this truly is too big for us to do alone. Losing Sydney was hard in it’s own right but we accepted that, picked up the pieces and moved forward. What we didn’t expect was the harsh reality of what adoption is still going to costs us when we do find our forever BabyLove. We had VERY naively expected up to another $10,000 in legal costs and finalization. Yea…..Ummmm…..No!! After meeting a countless number of adoptive parents, both with our agency and outside of our agency, we were corrected. Are you ready for this?! I am only typing it because I still don’t have the strength to say it without vomiting a little. $15,000-$30,000!!!!! That is AFTER our agency & homestudy fees. We are soooooooooo nowhere near that. That scares the crap out of me, guys!!! And this is what leads me into #5. 

#5…Before I even tell you. I have to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness for my brattiness and lack of faith. My complete brat-tastic behavior is inexcusable and I am in desperately plea of grace. When I am at my lowest satan knows exactly what to put in my head, the one thing that makes me feel guilty and frustrated at the same time. We don’t HAVE to do this. Don’t get me wrong, adoption is sincerely and completely ‘plan A’ for us. There has not been a single second of our journey that I have doubted God’s calling on our life to adopt. So this is simply out of my own stubbornness and desire to do things my way. K & I CAN make and birth children if we choose. We could make the choice today to biologically have our own children, bypass the waiting, fundraising, and emotional meltdowns. I have actually said that to my husband at one point. I am pretty sure my exact words were, “I’m not doing this anymore and you can’t make me!!!” God bless him for knowing my heart and responding with, “Yes you are, and I will just drag you along until you are ready to walk again.” Hahaha!!! Again…God bless him! <3

Adoption is also hard because not everyone else agrees with it or understands it the way we do. Recently my character was been under attack. I was told that I am a horrible person who got what they deserved.  I was called a bad parent and my kids should be taken away as well. I had someone tell me, “You need to save yourself before you try and save the world!” Am I a bad person if that last comment made me cackle….like in a really big way?! Are you kidding me right now? I am saved. My Father saved me when He died on the cross. I am born a sinner and I will die a sinner. I can’t control that. But, what I CAN control is how I choose to live my life, what I fight for, and the people I choose to love and defend. How about I just focus on that for a little while and let God handle the rest.

I choose adoption. No matter how ugly it gets, until every family has their baby home where they belong, I will always choose adoption.

I wish I could say this was fun everyday. Adoption is so full of joy, new friends, God’s love and the small details He presents in His good time. But today, today I am pouting. I am tired in every way conceivable. I don’t want to cry anymore, I don’t want to wait anymore, and I most definitely do not want to fundraise anymore. 

You have all seen them. There is no sense in playing nice now, we’re all family here!! My 57 posts a day on Facebook about our envelope game, prizes to be awarded, an upcoming auction, BabyLove Blankets for sale, and any other random thing that crosses our mind. It’s a beating, right?! It’s okay…You can say it…It is for us too. We hope you know our hearts. We pray you believe our sincereity as we navigate this VERY unchartered territory. With every fundraising attempt we hope to find a way to pay it forward. We won’t launch an idea without knowing that there is a return for you in some way. Because, in the biggest way, you are just as much a part of this journey as we are. Someone recently introduced themselves to me on Instagram by labeling themselves as ‘just a stranger’. I disagreed. There are no strangers here, only family and friends that haven’t met yet. That is the definition of adoption.

I am so blessed by each and every one of you. When I am weak you stand in the gap for me. When I am tired you rally me back to my feet. Our adoption journey has allowed me to make friendships that will last a lifetime. It has given me the opportunity to travel to states that I have never been too and hug the necks of women that have been there/done that. So for every single person that has said a pray, sent a penny, or stood in the gap for me…..Whether you are my blood relative, family by marriage, my childhood friend,  my bank teller, or my IG bestie….Thank you! It is something I will never forget, never take for granted, and I will spend the rest of my life paying it forward. You are my family, whether by blood or by adoption, because adoption makes us family.

 

If you would like to join our attempts at surviving adoption follow us:

Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/starfishsearch

Instagram @ HeartGrownBabyLove.

~ or you can donate ~

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=B6GUZGLS4JSUQ

Random bit of info…..If every one of our Facebook & Instagram friends donated only $16.29 we would be FULLY funded!! No more fundraisers. No more nagging posts. No more headache. Hmmmmmm…..I think I just came up with my next status update!! LOL

 

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Today Was a Good Day

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Today was a good day. Simple as that! Today was one of those days I will look back and say, “Remember when?”

I say it a lot (and I will continue saying it), but the adoption world is a different world. It’s not better (well, I personally think it is but I will allow that to be my isolated opinion…just this one time)…it’s definitely not worse…it’s just different. Today I met 2 ladies, that by all definition are strangers. We’ve never met in person, I’ve never heard their voices, yet we share a common bond and we know intimate details about each other’s lives. If I have learned anything in this world it’s that adoptive momma’s very rarely have a filter. There’s no curtain drawn shut to hide the ups & downs of our journeys. We rely on each other in a desperate clingy way. 

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 The picture ^above^ was only a matter of hours after meeting!

The picture below…Well, that’s another story for another time! :-)

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When new friends meet it’s common that it happens over a meal, maybe lunch and some ice cream. We did that….and some! Image

What happens (and how they happen) in AMom meetings stay in AMom meetings! But what I WILL say is, this tattoo has blessed my life! I realize that may sound absurd to some but it truly has. This tattoo is my testimony. 5 years ago I NEVER would have gotten a wrist tattoo, heck I didn’t have any tattoos 5 years ago. But today, today I am aware of the way my God has saved my life. I proudly walk the path He lies down for me. The tattoo is my opportunity to share with others the way that my God never leaves me, He carries me when I can no longer walk, He loves me when I can’t even love myself. A lotus flower represents overcoming something difficult or hard in your life. The same way the lotus flower grows from something ugly but uses the light to guide it to the top and eventually becomes something beautiful so it is with people. When designing this I twisted the stem into an ‘S’ to represent the moment in our journey that Sydney will always be a part of!! Yes, Sydney. She was a piece of the puzzle and I will forever be grateful for the relationships and opportunities her presence in our lives has allowed.

Whether you are reading my blog for the very first time or for the 50th time, she played a part in that. She will forever have a place in our hearts and she now has a place on my skin. I don’t want to forget. It will always hurts. I will always miss her and long for her to come home, but I don’t want to forget. Remembering her keeps me focused, it reminds me of why we chose adoption and of how God chose us. It didn’t matter to God’s son that we are sinners, that we carried more burden than can be defined, and that we would continue to be broken and wretched. He died for us. He chose us. He loved us.

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Today I rejoiced in friendship. I cried out in a little bit of pain, but more than that I laughed, hugged, and laughed some more. Today was full of joy. Today was God’s reminder that we are never alone. He sends an army, sometimes for fighting and sometimes just to put their arms around our necks and say, “Hi Friend”

Wanna know how our day ended?! It wasn’t all fun and games……..

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……….or was it?! Locked out of the mini-van before we ever made it to the beach!

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But wanna know the coolest part?! I LOVE it when God is in the details!! After calling roadside assistance (and taking that walk on the beach while we waited for a locksmith) this guy arrives and guess what……..He is an adoptive DAD!!! Just as proud and equally eager to share his story and pictures to prove it! 

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We serve an amazing God! A Father that loves His children and provides for their needs! I needed this today. When I woke up this morning I didn’t know my life without these amazing women, and as I go to bed I don’t know how I ever lived without them!

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

School is in Session

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This is a random post on a random day. I have been told (I can’t imagine what they could be talking about) that I am a pretty random person though so this should be my easiest post yet. No update, no profound thoughts or provoking discussions. Just one of those moments where I dig out of my soap box, dust it off and climb up. Who am I kidding, my soap box on adoption is my coffee table. It’s always within arms reach! :-) Feel free to read along and nod your head or feel free to comment your valid yet opposing opinions below. But heed warning, I will not approve anything that includes personal attacks, insults, or degrades the adoption community. I honor you and your respectful opinion. However, I will delete any disrespect or hate because it has no place here.

 

I was recently scrolling through Facebook and a post caught my attention. Anytime I see the word “adoption” these days I am hooked. It was posted by one of my newly made and highly adored adoptive Momma’s. It turns out it was quite an interesting and yet alarming debate about adoption & the fundraising that makes it possible for 99% of us. (Don’t bother looking up that statistic, I only wrote what I personally felt was most accurate) It was interesting yet alarming because of the fact that so many people had so many…ummm…what’s the word…LOUD opinions, yet very few of them had walked the same path as she (or we) had. I always find the opinions of the unexperienced to be ‘fun’. They don’t offend me, they do not upset or deter me, but like anything else in our society the uneducated just need to be educated. You won’t catch me teaching someone how to bake a cake or knit a scarf. I most definitely can’t teach someone to play an instrument or sing in tune (Good Lord, don’t ask me to sing in tune). We all have our walks in life, I guess I just choose to embrace mine while respecting yours.

 Now, this is just the opinion of one. Mine means no more than yours or anyone else’s. The thing that I find to be the most misunderstood in general is the motive behind adopting. Adoption is commonly seen as a Plan ‘B’. Like, “Well, it looks like we are barren so we might as well adopt”. I can understand how that rumor may have started BUT for the life of me I can not understand how it has not evolved over the years.

 A little adoption education for ya…..Did you know in 1851 Massachusetts passed the first modern adoption law, recognizing adoption as a social and legal operation based on child welfare rather than adult interests. Historians consider the 1851 Adoption of Children Act an important turning point because it directed judges to ensure that adoption decrees were “fit and proper.” How this determination was to be made was left entirely to judicial discretion. AND, did you know they had a movement that was named, ‘The Orphan Train’. The orphan trains are among the most famous episodes in adoption history. Between 1854 and 1929, as many as 250,000 children from New York and other Eastern cities were sent by train to towns in midwestern and western states, as well as Canada and Mexico. Families interested in the orphans showed up to look them over when they were placed on display in local train stations, and placements were frequently made with little or no investigation or oversight. (Controversial, right?!?! Yea, just a little bit!) It wasn’t even until 1891 that “the judge shall be satisfied as to the good moral character, and the ability to support and educate such child, and of the suitableness of the home, or the person or persons adopting such child.” <—- (WHAT?! It took 40 years before someone said, we better check these folks out first!”) Homestudies didnt’t even become mandatory until 1917! Did you know the first recorded transracial adoption of an African-American child by white parents took place in Minnesota. (I find this wildly fascinating) Twenty years ago, 1 percent of domestic adoptions were open. Now, 60 percent to 70 percent of domestic adoptions are open, which is why many agencies, whether advocates or opponents of the trend, offer open adoptions as an option!

 Come on people, it’s 2014!!! Our worlds have changed in a countless number of ways. Our homes, media, electronics, cars, hairstyles, and music have gone through eras of evolving. NOTHING is the same!! Yes, in some cases, a husband and wife find that they are not medically capable of having a biological child of their own. Their hearts long for a family and adoption is God’s blessing to these families. Adoption is a blessing in itself. It’s not stealing. It’s not ‘giving up’. It’s expanding a family through love. In a lot of cases, especially in our case, adoption is PLAN A. We are capable of creating and birthing biological children, we have successfully done so twice already. But, it wasn’t our plan. No, it wasn’t God’s plan. Adoption as well as the orphan ministry is a calling on our hearts that we feel very strongly about. We don’t NEED to adopt, we want to. 

 And in regards to fundraising, well I am going to keep this part brief (again, who am I kidding). Please do not think that you are any more annoyed  than we are by our fundraising attempts. We have to swallow our pride daily to push forward with another t-shirt sale, auction, bake sale, garage sale, raffle, and blanket making. We are so ridiculously blessed by so many of you, my goal is not to be confrontational. I have so much love for the people that simply ‘get it’. The ones that rally around us and love on our family. I mean NO disrespect whatsoever but some people are just mean with their words. I have seen a few comments multiple times, and they are ones that need to be addressed in a very direct way. It’s time we put things into perspective.

 Comment:  “If you can’t afford to do this on your own, you shouldn’t be doing it” or “$30,000 is robbery.”, “Who would pay that much money for a baby?” “Adoption is a scam. It’s all about the money”

Response: “Interesting. So did you write a check for that new car or did you pay cash? Oh…you financed it? They are letting you pay that sucker off over the next 60….Oh….72 months!!!! Gotcha! Let me find an attorney or an agency that will allow me to do the same and I will adjust our plans accordingly”…..oh….and one more thing….”I would. My children have no price tag too high. My children are priceless and can not be replaced. God’s children are something to be valued, loved, and held to the highest. So me….I would”

 Comment: “I didn’t fundraise when I birthed my children. Why should you be allowed to fundraise for yours”

Response: “Will you join me in writing congress to create an adoption insurance plan? I would LOVE to have a maximum deductible and pay my 20% of the bill. No…Oh…Okay, then I guess I will have to pay the entire bill. You won’t hear me complain, read the last line from the response above.”

 Why is fundraising for adoption so offensive to people?! Honest to all that is Holy, if I were to go back and keep record of every single box of Girl Scout cookies, coupon book, popcorn, wrapping paper, and candy bar I have ever bought I probably COULD write a check and pay this adoption off all by myself. But it doesn’t work that way. That isn’t what love looks like. We do these things, we support each other, out of love. We want to see people succeed. We want children to experience life and the pursuit of happiness. Why should adoption be any different?? That IS what adoption is all about. The real question is how can YOU put a price tag on a child’s chance at life? The desire to belong to a family. Who cares if it’s international, domestic, or foster. Why does the definition of family carry more weight than the benefits of simply belonging to one.

 For us, the number one misconception that we have faced is that some people believe we are allowing others to pay for our adoption. I don’t have to share this information, but I want to. In the last 11 months of our journey Kelsey and I have funded 80% of our costs out of our own pockets, 20% has been funded by fundraising. We did not walk into this wildly, it was never our plan to fundraise. We prepared, made a plan, saved, and prayed. But it was God’s word that showed us the error in our ways. It was the mentoring from others that taught us we were allowing our pride to slow God’s work in our lives. He never intended for us to do this alone, He sends an army to walk this journey with us. 

 So, I truly can not say it enough. THANK YOU! Whether it is by prayer, by hugs, or by monetary support. We are so grateful for you, the army that God has sent to walk with us. We feel more loved and God’s presence than ever before. Adoption truly sets our hearts on fire. This is our mission and we are honored to be a part of it. Someone recently said, “I can’t wait for you to have your baby home” in which my response was and will continue to be, “This is OUR baby” You are all our family, adopted through God’s grace & love. We are honored to share this journey with each of you. For those that don’t understand, that’s okay too…..Our prayer is that our experience will change the hearts of one. It only takes one.

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For more on the adoption facts, dates and historical breakthroughs quoted above you can visit:

http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~adoption/timeline.html

http://www.researchetcinc.com/historyofadoption.html

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=124285

 

 

We’re Just Getting Started…..

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T.H.R.E.E. <—- That is how many discouraging messages we received this week in regards to our adoption. Notice I didn’t say defeating, they didn’t stop me in my tracks nor did they send me on a detour. More than anything, it was disheartening to witness how freely three complete strangers could insult, degrade, and belittle my family. A year ago, those messages would have devastated me. I would have mulled over them, read them over and over again, probably would have even cried a couple of times. But now….now I simply pressed ‘delete’, rotated the clothes in my washer while telling my two Baby Loves to find their soccer cleats. You see, one year ago my life was forever changed. Our family of 4 was growing to 5 and in a moment’s notice we were back to 4. One year ago, in a single instant, I learned that life is full of so much pain and so much joy, I just had to choose which of the two I would allow to consume me.

I won’t relive that day today. Trust me, the first time was plenty. There are some amazing articles in regards to miscarriage, I highly recommend every one read them. Maybe for yourself and maybe for the sake of others.

This one hit closest home. This one helped me understand why I grieved a loss that was so early in my pregnancy, why that was okay, and why that will continue to be okay.

http://thelewisnote.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-miscarriage-matters-if-youre-pro.html

It’s amazing what can happen in a year. People come into your life that you never saw coming and they teach you all kinds of lessons you weren’t prepared to learn. The last 365 days have included a new city, a new home, new friends, new jobs, new chances, even a new (used, but new to us) minivan for our growing family. Our year was full of soccer leagues, basketball teams, beach trips, Mommy’s night out, and family fun days. We traveled to Costa Rica without anything more than a plane ticket and an orphanage address. Yes, we lost a part of us, a big part of us. We lost a life that we loved, but we also gained so much in return. We are full of hope and our faith remains strong. Our family will grow and we will continue to live, never forgetting what Baby C #3 allowed us to experience.

We believe in adoption. We adamantly and with nothing short of pure stubbornness choose adoption. Our hearts guide our actions, not the shallow words of confused strangers. We do not explain our actions, we only follow the calling God has placed on our lives. There is no step we take that we do not pray over. We trust in God’s ultimate plan for our family. I have said it before, and I have a feeling I will say it many MANY more times. Adoption for us is not about ‘getting’ a child, it’s about ‘giving’ our family to another. This blog and our Facebook page are not our marketing tool, this is our journey. We do not fear that birth-moms will see us as unstable or weak. We pray they see us as real and how strongly we love. This is us. For the good, bad, and yes even sometimes crazy, this is who we are. 

So you see, those 3 letters, they were just letters. They were just words from people that will never have the same impact on our lives as so many others that have invested in us, prayed for us, laughed and cried with us. We have learned so many things because of so many amazing people full of unending joy. We choose joy. We will always choose joy.

Some very smart, wonderful, loving, and kind people once said:

Love Always Wins

Choose Joy

Refuse Small Love

Find The Joy in The Journey

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Go Be Love

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Adoption will wreck you. It will cause you pain, hurt, anger, and despair. It will confuse you and leave you breathless. Words will fail you. Your flesh will fail you. Adoption…IS…HARD!! I’m not in the mood to sugar coat it, but adoption doesn’t need to be sugar coated.  I am MAD!! I am hurt!!! I am heartbroken. As I sit here in my husband’s FSU flannel pajamas, wrapped up in blanket, rocking my bedhead, I contemplate putting my foot through someone’s office door. I am MAD!! And Hell knows no fury like an angry Mother’s wrath! But I embrace that anger. I accept it as part of my journey. I’m not giving up. I am accepting. I am collecting myself and rebuilding. I am keeping the promise I made on day 1. We did not walk into this battlefield naively. And trust me, adoption is a battlefield. The battle is real. But so is love. It is the most real…raw…and true thing I have ever experienced. It is love, and love has been called a lot of things but never has it been called ‘easy’. 

If you feel called, even in the smallest most insignificant way. If the strings of your heart are being pulled and you are not sure why. I beg of you, listen. And then, act. Trust that feeling. Trust that calling. It will be the most rewarding moments of your life. It will open your world to new people, amazing people full of a kind of love that can’t be explained. A kind of love that is not painted with black and whites. It’s a world that belongs on a different level. Adoption surprises you. It fills your world with all of the good things that go unseen. Please don’t let the bad scare you. Don’t let the scary things turn you away. Does adoption suck rusty nails? At times…Yes! But it’s sooooo much more than that. The layers of adoption never end. 

Today sucks rusty nails. Tomorrow may be a repeat of today. But I won’t stop. I won’t turn away. Because even when my flesh fails me. Even when this WORLD fails me. My God never will. I got to experience the amazing love of a little girl. I was given the opportunity to share sweet tea with two amazing women that have lived life. They have lived a hard life, full of failures and regret, and they could have caved. They could have given in to a broken world, a broken heart, but instead they stood strong in their faith. They turned to God and they trust Him to fight for them. I am honored to walk this walk. I may be losing in one aspect but I am gaining in so many others.

I am hiding from the world, I don’t think anyone can argue with that decision. But I am reading every one of your messages. I am soaking them in, using them to gain strength. I am smiling, crying, laughing, and then crying again. Last night I received what may be the best compliment i have ever received…EVER. It is what I have repeated to myself throughout the night and will continue to do so in coming days. All it said was, “You are what love looks like.”

Wow! What an honor. What an amazing blessing. I have no words after that. So I challenge you. Go. Go be what love looks like.