Friday, July 29, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Did you know...

... that in your weakness he is made strong? Did you know that God uses even the most broken people to affect the world and his kingdom?

I'm still doing my Women of the Bible study and although I've been through it before, God is revealing things to me that flew over my head the last time. This week is about Tamar. Did you know that through Tamars bloodline would eventually come Jesus? Did you know also that in order for Tamar to continue her bloodline she had to impersonate a prostitute in order to conceive with her father in law? Sounds like an ancient day episode of Jerr.y S.pringer, no? Well, it's true.

Tamar was first married to Er, the son of Judah (who was Jacob and Leah's son). The bible doesn't say much of Er other than he was wicked and killed for his sins. After Er died, Jacob followed the custom in that day and gave Tamar his second son, Onan, to conceive a child, but the child was to carry on Er's lineage, not Onan's. Onan wasn't down with that, so although he took advantage of the physical aspect of marriage, he always made sure to not conceive a child with Tamar. The bible put's it this way: "But, Onan knew the heir would not be his; and when it came to pass, that he went into his brothers wife, he emitted on the ground. Lest he should give an heir to his brother." (Gen. 38:9) And for his sin, he was also killed. Judah's 3rd son was too young to marry, so Tamar would have to wait for him to come of age to conceive a child. As time passed Tamar was tired of waiting and heard news of Judah's wife passing and his journey to Timnah. She decided to make things happen for herself. She disguised herself as a prostitute, sat by the side of the road and waited for Judah, who upon coming across her took the bait and unknowingly conceived a child with his daughter-in-law.

So what does all this mean? It means that no matter the circumstances that brought you to the place your at in your life, God can still use you for good. Regardless of what you've done. There may be consequences for your actions, and they may really stink, but God still loves you and can and still wants to use you. In Matthew 1 it lists the genealogy of Jesus. Listed there are over 40 male relatives (who had plenty of their own issues) and only 5 female relatives. Of those 5, 3 of them, Tamar, Rehab and Bathsheba were adulterers, prostitutes and murders. But, God chose to use them. Not because approves of their actions, but because in their weakness his strength was made perfect! He chose these imperfect women to bring about his son, the Messiah. If God could use them for the most important event in history, surely he can use you to positively affect the world your in today! Be encouraged!

"And he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'" 2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, July 25, 2011

Learning to let go...

I've always been a fixer. When I see someone in need, I want to help. When see someone sad, I set out to make them laugh. When a friend needs advice, I'm there to talk them through the mess. When I see someone hurting, I want to fix it. I'm also a talk-it-outer. I like to know where things stand or what the other person is feeling or thinking. It helps me asses the situation and plan for the next step. I guess I feel a responsibility to make things right.

So having this talk it out and fix it personality can create quite the conundrum in an OA. The truth is, I can't fix everything. Not only is it impossible, it's not my place. I'm learning to let go. I'm learning it's not my responsibility to make sure everyones okay. But, it's not easy.

Lovebugs 1st birthday is in 2 short weeks. As of right now I really don't know how C is feeling about it all. I've briefly asked, but I don't want to pry. I've offered an ear, but I don't want to push. I can try to imagine what she's feeling, but how could I ever really know? A year ago, this sort of thing, the not knowing, the worrying, the guessing,  would have drove me batty, but I'm learning to let go.

God sure knows how to stretch us! He knows the place we need to be and how to get us there. And although it might hurt to be stretched, God's just trying to get you back into alignment. You'll be better off for it, if you can just hang on! I'm hangin' on, God, and in the process I'm learning to let go...

Friday, July 22, 2011

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Open Adoption Round Table #28 "Questions from an adult adoptee"

This round table is a little different. Lori at Write Mind Open Heart was asked a series of questions from an adult adoptee from the closed adoption era regarding today's open adoptions and has invited others to participate in answering the questions as well. While I can't answer them all, I'll do my best!

1. Can the adoptive parents really go back on their word after the adoption has been finalized and do whatever they please in regard to updates and pictures?

To my knowledge there are only a very few states that have legally enforceable open adoption agreements. In the other states, open adoption agreements are verbal and hold no legal enforcement. So, I supposed the answer to the question is yes. It can and does happen. Does this happen in the majority of OA cases? To my knowledge no. I know 7 families off the top of my head who are in some form of OA with their childs birth family, who are complete advocates for OA and really work to make things successful.

2. Who is the go-between for communication with most Open Adoptions: the case worker, the placing agency, or the lawyer handling the adoption?

I would think in the beginning, the majority of communication goes through a third party. Most agencies set up  a schedule for pictures ans visits. It's a good guideline to have for those first years. For us, when we were first matched and adoption specialist at the agency handled all of our communication, but after we had our first meeting with C, we started having direct contact and rarely used any third party communication, especially after Lovebug was born.

What are the advantages and disadvantages for each of the above contact persons?

Since my last answer didn't touch on each of the mentioned people I will just answer this question pertaining to the person I did mention, the Adoption Specialist(or caseworker). I think the advantages to using your case worker to communicate is that it gives you a buffer. You can bounce your ideas off of that person before presenting them if your still trying to find your way, if your hurt by something or worried about something you can ask your case worker about her experience with the specific situation your in, etc. But I think thats more stuff for the beginning of an OA. I think the disadvantages to going through your CW to communicate is that your really not learning how each other work or how you think. I think OA's at there core are very personal and going through a third party is very impersonal. IMO, once an OA is established communication is better just being direct.

4. How can case workers be involved in Open Adoption as well if DHS are already so understaffed and the budgets are maxed out for the thousands of forgotten children lost in the system?

I don't think this really pertains to my experience...

5. Is there an incentive such as money for the adoption agency to be still involved indirectly and indefinitely for an Open Adoption? Does it cost the prospective adoptive parents more money upfront for it to be an open adoption?

No and no.The agency doesn't benefit at all from our OA. They're role basically ended when we finalized unless we needed them for something. In C's case, the agency has continued to offer post relinquishment support to her through counseling and support groups which does not benefit the agency either.

6. If the contract is legally binding, what happens to the adoptive parents if they don’t follow through? Is there really any legal recourse for both parties that are clearly spelled out?

I'm not really familiar with legally binding OA agreements since in FL OA are not legally enforceable. But, I would love to learn more from those of you who may be in a state where it is legally enforceable! Anyone from California?

7. What deters the birth parents from coming to your house unannounced?

Well, nothing! But, I guess how you view your childs birth parent would determine how you'd think of this question. We love and trust Lovebugs birthmom and her family, if we didn't quite honestly we wouldn't have given them our address, last name and telephone number. Trust is huge in an OA. That being said we've told C before, and meant it, that she's always welcome at our house. We consider her family in the real sense of the word. It's not just a fun phrase for us. We really feel that way. So what stops her from just dropping by (besides distance, since we don't live close by) is the common respect she, or I or you, would have for anyone. Hopefully we'd all call be for going over to anyone's house!

8. Do you know if there are any court cases where it’s obvious that there are loopholes in Open Adoption that need to be addressed?

Not personally. There are the horror stories everyone has heard about prospective adoptive parents agreeing to OA just to "seal the deal" and then recanting once placement happens. I have never seen this first hand, but I would consider this a loophole that needs to be addressed. The problem is how?

9. Just like there are issues with closed adoptions and we have the outspoken activists’, etc., are there any Open Adoption opponents or vice versa that are working to be the voice for the birth mothers as well as the adoptive children and their best interests?

 I've never come across an "activist" against OA. Plenty for it, but none against it. I've seen people voice their concerns on forums about OA, but rarely do they ever have any true personal experience in the matter. 

10. When is the adoptee old enough to choose if they want contact or not? What if they are the ones who want to break off ties with the bio parents?

They way we feel about Lovebugs family is that they're part of our extended family, much like aunts, uncles or grandparents. In a traditional biologically connected family you don't hear too often of a child choosing to cut off contact with part of their extended family. I just don't foresee that being an issue. But, there is a big difference between having an aunt and a birthmom, so if Lovebug ever did feel uncomfortable with a visit or some form of communication we would try to help her to figure out why and work through it.

11. Are there any support groups/legal aids for birth mothers where they can get honest answers with their concerns for open adoptions?

I know our agency has support groups for birthmoms as well as expectant moms so I would assume other agencies do, too. There are online support groups/forums, but I'm leery to suggest them as lately the ones I frequent seem to be plagued with arguments and people with their own agendas.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Becoming a toddler

It's so hard to believe that in just a few short weeks our baby will be 1! How did this happen so quickly? How did we become the parents of a toddler?

Lovebug seems to change day by day. These days she all about Daddy! I can remember a few months back, my hubby was so sad that she didn't really reach for him or prefer to go to him. I assured him that it was just a stage that would quickly pass, but he longed for the days when he's return home from work to a very excited baby, dreaming about those days as if they'd never come. We'll babe, they're here! A few weeks ago we noticed that Lovebug was tapping her right ear frequently. I worried that it might be another infection, yet there was no fever or apparent discomfort. We wondered if it had to do with her new obsession over the phone. Was she pretending to say hello? Then one day, after Lovebug and I had been out of town over night, we figure out what it was: as we walked in and she heard Daddy's voice she excitedly started tapping her right ear again while grinning ear to ear and we realized she was signing DADDY! The correct sign is to hold your hand up and tap your thumb on your forehead, but for Lovebug, using her palm to tap her ear seemed best. This is now her favorite sign to do. She askes for Daddy throughout the day, then when he comes home and happens to be in another room she'll ask for him again or if I'm on the phone with Daddy and she hears his voice she'll smile and sign for him. It might just be the sweetest thing ever! It's amazing to see her comprehension of the world around her expanding! I love seeing her brain work and teaching her new things. As sad as it will be to see her infancy stage behind us, it will be equally as exciting to see our little girl grow! *sigh* But, in these next few weeks I'm going to savor this baby stage :)

Lovebug and her Daddy :)
 Sweet baby girl!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Lately I have been doing a "Women of the Bible" study that examines, well, the women of the bible! This week is focused on Rachel and like many of the women in the bible I can relate to her story.

Here's the lowdown on Rachel: Rachel is the daughter of Laban and has one sister Leah. One day Rachel takes her fathers flock to water them and meets a man, Jacob, who happens to be her father, Laban's sisters son (eh, em. Her cousin). Jabob falls in love with Rachel and tells Laban he will serve him for 7 years to marry her. At the end of those seven years, when Jacob thought he would marry Rachel, Laban got greedy and tricked Jacob into sleeping with Leah by disguising her as Rachel. In those days, this meant he was now married to Leah, much to his disappointment. So, to remedy the situation, Laban says (paraphrasing) "Serve me seven more years and you may have Rachel, too". So Jacob agreed and married Rachel as well. Leah went on to have 6 sons and 1 daughter, where as Rachel was barren. At one point, feeling as if her sisters fertility was mocking her own infertility she cried out to Jacob "Give me children or else I die!" She went on to give Jacob 2 of her servants to bare children for her, before it says that God remembered her and opened her own womb. She gave birth to one son and before becoming pregnant again untimately dying in child birth.

So, how do I relate? Well, I'm not married to my cousin and I have no sisters(in my immediate family at least), so I relate to Rachel in feelings about her fertility, or lack there of. Rachel saw Leah's fertility as mocking her own infertility. I can't tell you how many times I felt this. Seeing a smiling pregnant women, would at times feel like a stab to the heart. There were times where I would hear of another women's new pregnancy and feel so much bitterness I couldn't stand it. I echoed the feeling of "give me children or else I will die!" feeling as though my heart would literally break at any moment. But, where does all that lead? Where does bitterness and envy ultimately lead anyone? In Rachels case, is ultimately lead to her own death. Did she seek out what God wanted from her life or was she so dead set on what her own flesh craved that she would do anything to get it?

In my own persoal journey I came to a point where I realized my fertility had become an idol. I obsessed over it, I took time away from God because of it and my heart became hardened.  Letting go of my fertility was a bittersweet time. I had come to the end of the road. I fought so hard to have my way. Would I hold on to my anger and bitterness for what I felt I needed or would I let God lead me in the way He wanted my life to go? I let go. I let God lead me and I'm so happy I did! I cannot imagine my life any other way.

Are you in a place where you feel bitter and angry about your situation? I've been there and I know how it feels. I encourage you to seek out Gods will for your life. Where will the bitterness take you? Where will God take you? Let Him be your guide and I promise, you will not be let down!

Key Scriptures: Genesis 29-35

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

One downside to cloth diapering in Florida is...

when there's a sudden onset of rain that reminds you about the diapers you left on the line outside... crud!

more on cloth diapering later...

Monday, July 11, 2011


Ever have one of those day's where you just feel thankful? I'm having that day today. Nothing huge happened. No monumental event. It's just been a normal day around here: breakfast, playtime, a few fits, nap time. But, that's what's so awesome! For what seemed like forever, it felt like being a Mom was never going to happen . It was something I could only dream about and watch other people live out. But now, it's my normal. It's my normal to be Lovebugs Mom and  for that I'm so thankful!

Lovebug waiting for the rain to roll in :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

I'm breaking the rules on this one as the photo is from our vacation and not this past week, but it's a moment that I will cherish forever and wanted to share! Oh and it's a day late... eh, who's counting! ;)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Open Adoption Round Table #27 "First Meeting"

Every parent has their own unique story of meeting their child for the first time. Maybe it was in the hospital room where you got to witness your child breathe their first breath. Maybe you sat in a waiting until someone came to whisk away to a room where your child was waiting. Maybe you sat at your agency anxiously awaiting your new baby to arrive. Or maybe, surrounded by strangers sipping their lattes, you walked into a Starbucks and first layed eyes on your precious child.

Yep. The latter was us! 

I think back to driving up to the building and trying to peer in the overly glared windows just waiting to get my first glimpse of our daughter. It was packed. I wondered what the people exiting the store thought about us walking in with an empty car seat.  As we pulled the door open I got so nervous. I scanned the room quickly looking for the sw and the baby. Finally I saw the sw tucked into a corner and as she saw me she smiled and reached to pick our daughter up out of her car seat. As she picked her up and we saw her for the first time and I swear the heavens opened. The music started. And then right before we started to say our first hello's a  man walking by chimed in with a "Wow, that's a beautiful baby! How old is she?!" Pretty much jetting his head between us and the baby! I don't remember what I said to him, but I'm pretty sure flames came shooting out of my eyeballs! Dude! This is our moment buddy... go away! LOL!

The first one to hold Lovebug was my Hubby. This in and of itself was monumental, since as his rule, he never held itty bitty babies. She was so small in his arms and so absolutely beautiful. As we peered at our daughter for the first time, examining her hands, kissing her tiny face, that overly crowed small Starbucks could have been empty for all we knew. It was love at first sight. The only people who existed in that moment was the 3 of us. Somehow we managed to pay enough attention to sign some paperwork, although it wasn't without a few "wait, can you repeat that?" questions. We spent a little more time going over the hospital discharge info and how things would go from here(since we had to wait out a revocation period) and then S, the sw, said "well, time for me to get going!". *gulp* Wow, this was really happening! After we said our goodbyes to her and she walked out of the restaurant I remember thinking how surreal it was to just be left with the baby. I mean I knew that's what would happen and obviously what we wanted to happen, but when it happened it was just so surreal.

We kinda just stared at each other for a second and then fumbled around with packing up all the little baby things that we weren't yet used to. After we got things together we buckled Lovebug in her new seat, snapped a picture of her to send to all of our anxious family members and walked out of the Starbucks, but this time with a full seat!

As we drove away we both broke down. All the years we waited, all that we wanted was finally sitting in our back seat. To say we were happy is an understatement. Our first meeting with our daughter was totally unconventional, totally awesome and a great story to share when we want to mix things up a little :)

Oh and the picture in my header is of that day! Notice the cup just to my right? Yeah, no big deal...

If you want to see more responses to the discussion click here!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vacation and 1st visit 2011!

Our hike at Chimney Rock!

Wow! Whats an amazing 10 days we just had. First off I have to brag a bit because I'm pretty sure we have the best baby ever! Last Friday started our journey north. I was pretty nervous because, aside from the drive home when Lovebug was 13 days old, we've not driven more then 2 hours with her in the car and at 10.5 months old she knows she can get up and move and doesn't like to sit still! But, much to Mommy and Daddy's heartwarming surprise, she was an absolute angel in the car(not that she's not usually an angel... but you know what I mean)! She napped, she played, we read books and for those moments when it seemed she was about to flip, we had the back up Baby Einstein...Shhh..don't tell anyone!

So our vacation went something like this:

For the first 4 1/2 days we stayed in a cabin with dear friends in North Carolina. We went to the zoo, hiked up Chimney Rock to see the most beautiful view, hiked to a waterfall, the boys went mountain biking and the girls hung at the beautiful cabin, swinging on the huge porch swing(I mean seriously, it was a twin bed on a swing!), picking blackberries and soaking up just being in the quiet, beautiful smokey mountains. To say it was relaxing is an understatement.

The cabin

Next we went south to Georgia to visit Aunt M and Uncle P! While there we visited the Georgia Aquarium, went to an amazing indoor pool that had a playground in the water (Lovebug was all over that! I swear she's secretly a fish!) and while in GA we got to see Lovebugs birthfamily!! The aquarium was gorgeous! Within 10 minutes of seeing the fish, Lovebug learned what a fish say's. If you ask her "Lovebug, what does a fish say?" She's opens and closes her mouth in kind of a "pop, pop, pop" way. It's beyond adorable!

At the Aquarium

But, I want to stop the story here for a second before we talk about our visit...I know I referred to Lovebugs "birthfamily", but I've come to realize that I don't like adoption lingo too much. To me "birthfamily" doesn't really fit. They weren't just her family at birth. They're still her family. They're our family. After our visit this became even more apparent. So, lately I've been stewing over whats appropriate. Do we say "other family"? Then I feel like there's a divide for Lovebug. Maybe "first family"? I'm not sure. Maybe we'll just refer to them as "The 'insert last name'" like we do with other extended family members. And for C, I don't know what to call her. Some use "Tummy Mommy", C herself sometimes jokingly says "Wommy" for womb mommy, some use Mama C. Not sure, I think I'll ask her what she comfortable with and we'll go from there.

Ok, back to the story. So our visit was great! Being the normal ball of nerves I can be, I was shocked at how calm I felt about the whole thing! In the days leading up I didn't feel anything but excitement to see C and her family! But, as we parked the car and started to walk up, knowing that right around the corner stood the women that brought our daughter into the world and the family that loves her so, I got nervous. What was this going to be like? Would they crumble as they saw her? What if Lovebug was unusually clingy to me or Hubby and didn't want to go to anyone? What if I can't keep it together? As we walked up, about to round the corner, I looked at Hubby and said "It's 'bout to get heavy up in here!" Breaking the tension slightly, we laughed and made the turn. The first faces we saw were C and her mom with huge smiles and a welcoming "hello"! Immediately, my fears vanished and we greeted each other with warm hugs. For the rest of the afternoon we ate lunch and played in the near by fountains, enjoying talking to each other about life and Lovebug. They got to see of Lovebugs newest tricks. On the trip she'd learned what an elephant and a fish say and loved showing off her new skills to everyone! I kinda felt like the paparazzi snapping pictures left and right, but I wanted to remember these moments forever. I loved seeing each of them hold Lovebug for the first time since she was born. Taking in all of her little self. I loved each of the little moments they all sole away with her. Watching C hold her face to face as Lovebug traced her facial features (before grabbing her nose, but hey still sweet!) watching C's sister introduce C's niece to her cousin for the first time, seeing C's dad gaze down at Lovebug and watching Lovebug cuddle up on C's mom's shoulder as we walked over to the fountains.

It was overwhelming to see how much love our daughter has in her life.

After the girls played in the fountains for a while, it was time for C and her family to head home. I was sad that our afternoon with them was ending unsure of when we'd see them again. As we said our goodbyes, C said she was planning to come down our way to visit a friend in the fall and gestured that while she was down she wanted to head down our way! We're so excited! I was especially excited because we initiated this visit, so to have her initiate the next one felt awesome!

So to cap it off, vacation 2011 was huge! Not only was it our first family road trip where we had an unbelievable time, but also Lovebugs first family reunion. God has so richly blessed our lives in the past year, it's sometimes hard to take it all in. But, in every moment we're thankful to the One who was faithful to give us the desires of our hearts. Desire's that at time's we couldn't fully see, but now we see in plain view.