Tag Archives: lessons learned

When we come home

This post is difficult for me to write because it forces me to articulate some difficult things about adoption. It necessitates vulnerability. If those around us don’t understand some core things about adoption and how the related issues can affect a child and a family, then our plan for homecoming won’t make much sense.

A key thing to remember is that all adoption is possible because a child has first suffered an incomprehensible loss. Yes, adoption is beautiful. Yes, God works powerfully through adoption – as a Christian I know this in my soul firsthand. There is so much – so very much – good that can and is born of adoption. But, as adoptive parents, we must never forget the loss and grief and previous hurts that our child has experienced.

I don’t want to come at this too heavy-handed. It’s true that we do not yet know what Ladybug will struggle with as it specifically relates to her coming adoption, but we as her parents need to be prepared for anything.

Additionally, when a baby is born, there are a lot of things that the baby’s parents do almost instinctively that work toward creating attachment between them and their new baby. Much of the time, birth parents do not go out of their way to foster excellent attachment, it’s just a God-designed by-product of how we parent our babies and young kiddos.

Because we have missed those early days and years with Ladybug, we will be focusing more intentionally on attachment: helping her to learn what “mommy” and “daddy” are, helping her to trust us, helping her to learn what it means to be a part of a family, helping her learn appropriate dependence (to later learn appropriate independence), and more.

All of this to say: we may make decisions or choose to parent in ways that are confusing to others or that others may disagree with. While we welcome respectful guidance and wisdom in our lives, we also want to let you know that we’ll be doing the best we can with the knowledge we have. This may include “babying” Ladybug, seeming to tolerate undesirable behaviors, or making a big deal out of something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to others.

Just remember that while our homecoming is the culmination of the adoption process that you all have lovingly followed us on, it is only the very beginning of a lifetime we have spent the last few years preparing for!

When We Come Home

1. We are super excited for all of our friends and family to meet our new daughter! She’s pretty fantastic, and we can’t wait to share! However, we need to keep her world as small as possible to give her a chance to adjust. Please don’t expect to meet Ladybug right away. If it’s days or weeks, or sadly even months longer to meet her than you had hoped, just know that we, too, wish it could be different.

If you stop by the house and we can’t invite you in or ask that you not stay too long, we’re sorry! We will probably try to avoid a lot of interaction at church or other places initially; I promise we’re not trying to be rude!

2. Please refrain from kissing or hugging Ladybug. Indiscriminate affection can sometimes be an issue for kiddos who have been adopted. We don’t anticipate this being a problem for Ladybug, but please stick to a “hello” and a smile, anyway.

3. This may sound¬†silly, but please don’t feed Ladybug. Feeding and attachment go hand-in-hand: think of the breastfeeding baby and the touch, eye contact, met needs, and satisfaction that the mama and baby experience. So, Chris and I really need to be the only ones to feed Ladybug indefinitely.

4. Please don’t ignore us! I know it feels like I’m asking everyone to allow us to live in a cave, and while we do need some good quality family time, we want and NEED to have the support of our loved ones, too. We would love for you to call, text, or Facebook us; send us some fun mail; bring by a meal; offer to pick something up from the store, help with an errand, or help in some other super tangible way. We NEED your prayers! Celebrate with us!

Many adoptive families implement really structured time frames for a lot of these rules: they may commit to not leave the house for the first 6 weeks except for doctor’s appointments; or they may say no visitors for “x” amount of time; etc. In general, it is recommended to “cocoon”as a family for at least 1 month for every year a child received care outside of your family. For us, that would be at least 3 months. We’re staying away from firm boundaries for a few reasons – the greatest of which really probably has to do with Gumdrop’s impending arrival. For example, we will need my mama’s help with the girls during labor and delivery, so I can’t very well prevent her from meeting Ladybug for six weeks. So instead of imposing firm boundaries of time on ourselves, we’re going to listen to the Lord’s prodding and follow Ladybug’s lead with as much grace and wisdom as possible!

Thank you for caring enough about Ladybug, our family, and learning how best to support this transition by reading this post!

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Waiting

We mailed off our remaining home study documents on Friday. So now we wait! Hopefully the drafting and review process for our home study will go quickly. It’s amazing how much getting ready to accomplish this first big hurdle makes the finish line feel all the closer!

I was reminded again today that God values time spent waiting. There are so many instances in His story of His people being asked to wait. When He asks us to wait, we must remember that we do not wait in vain! He is working, and He has a purpose for our time spent waiting. It’s a good reminder.

And so, for today, I choose to wait joyfully, expectantly, and cheerfully. My God sits on His throne; there is no reason for me to fret!

Letters to Bumblebee

YellowTulips

I think it’s natural to guard one’s heart in pregnancy after loss. Just because it may be natural, though, doesn’t mean it’s something we want to settle into and get comfortable with. I know I certainly didn’t. I wanted to love this baby wholeheartedly. And I didn’t want to look back on my pregnancy and remember all the ways I tried to keep my heart safe. For better or for worse, this baby deserved a mama who was brave enough to love. From day one.

And so, of course, one way I combatted guarding my heart was by writing Bumblebee some letters. I know many mamas write their children letters throughout their lives, but so far it’s not been something I’ve done. Yet, I felt that writing Bumblebee was a necessary part of this unpredictable process that is pregnancy after loss. I wanted to share, again with my heart on my sleeve, in case someone out there can relate.

The first letter was written the day after I found out Bumblebee existed:

3/20/2013

Hello Sweet Baby!

Oh how my heart rejoices to know you! And in fact, you’ve been mommy’s little secret for a few days. ūüôā

God surprised me with you, little one. Mommy and Daddy didn’t know when you’d come, and I think now seems like PERFECT timing! You are being knit together, designed by an awesome creator. I pray you’ll know Him one day. I know Him – better now than ever probably, and I praise Him for you!! You are a blessing!

Little one, our “after” is forever changed because of YOU! You exist! We are so happy! And yet, there was a “before,” too. Before was sometimes very hard. We know that after will be hard, too, but regardless of it all, we trust God’s plan. We know that He knows best.

Heaven is close on our minds, you see. You have THREE beautiful and precious siblings there! Jesus is there! Mommy and Daddy will go there, too, one day. It really is our home, you know.

And I just want to tell you that Mommy and Daddy love you so much. We place you in God’s hands because He loves you EVEN MORE than we do. Your life is big and valuable because He is your creator. And we so want to meet you!

But, we trust God – even when it’s hard. If you meet Jesus and your three siblings in Heaven before we do, I know that will be wonderful for you! It will be very sad for us, but a hopeful sad because, really, we won’t be long behind you.

Either way, sweet baby, God loves us. He made us all, and He is working good things out of the hard stuff of our lives. We trust that He is doing the same for you!

We pray that you grow big and strong, sweet baby. We pray that you’ll get to meet Mommy, and Daddy, and Poppy first! We can’t wait to hold you in our arms… To watch you smile for the first time… Coo at us… Grow up entirely too fast… Play games with us and learn about Jesus with us. Serve others with us… We know God has already blessed us with you, and we pray with all that we are that He will bless us by keeping you healthy to come meet us!

We can’t wait!!! I love you, sweetie.

Love, Mommy

Mama still loves you, Sweet Bee. God is good, all the time.

Raw Moments

With Noelle, I only took one test. After loss, that second pink line is a great reassurance.

With Poppy, I only took one test. After loss, that second pink line is an even greater reassurance.

Pregnancy after loss is crazy unpredictable.

Even though I worried about Poppy¬†during my first pregnancy, it’s different with this baby. With Poppy, I felt more fearful of losing her, fearful in a “I don’t know what to expect” and a “what if…?” kind of way. The emotions I’ve fought against through this pregnancy with Bumblebee are different. I often feel… Wow it’s so hard to explain. In the early days, I desperately didn’t want to lose my baby; and yet I think I had learned to accept this blessing with much more open hands. It wasn’t fatalistic, but it was a deep-seeded, faith-filled realization that I was not and could not be in control. It was a buckle down kind of feeling, almost like gearing up for battle.

In many ways, pregnancy after loss is a battle: a battle for hope, a battle against fear, a battle to love, a battle to stay strong.

The first few days after finding out I was pregnant with Bumblebee, I was the only one who knew since Chris was out of town. I was alone with my thoughts much more, and I think it helped force me to process the whirlwind that existed inside of me. So, I wrote.

I wrote a hurried, afraid-to-breathe prayer in the moments after seeing two pink lines. It’s taken some time, but I’ve decided I want to share some. It’s deeply personal, but if it can help someone else process the ups and downs of pregnancy after loss, then it’s completely worth wearing my heart on my sleeve:

March 19, 2013
Lord Jesus,
I just had my fifth positive pregnancy test. FIVE! I can hardly believe you’ve blessed us with five blessings! Lord, I am in awe. […]

Lord, I don’t even want to go here, but I must. I cannot ignore my history away, pretend it never happened. I can’t deny the fact that the trials you’ve walked us through have changed me.

I want them to have changed me in only positive ways and never negative, but you know I’m being honest with you when I say I’m scared. […]

Lord, this child is yours. Please enable us to make the best decisions we can for this baby. Fulfill your will in his/her life. We would so love to hold this baby and have the blessing of loving and raising this child. But your will be done. I don’t have to fear. […]

You above all – far above all – know what this baby and I need! Please hold us in your hand, protect us, and let your will be done in our lives.

Thank you Lord for this blessing! I love you! Thank you for walking me through my years, for never leaving me Lord!

I love you and I praise you, for this baby and I are fearfully and wonderfully made! You hold our days in your hands! You will never leave or forsake us […]

Give me courage, Lord! […]

I love you. I thank you for this sweet baby!

Love, Kami

Looking back on this prayer four months later now, I see a clear pattern. I was grateful; I was honest; I did my best to not live in the honesty of my humanity and fears, but instead tried my best to remind myself of who my Savior is and what He has promised.

No matter your trial, remember that you can be so honest with The Lord. But also remember to not settle with your own emotions. Instead, we must practice claiming what God has promised to us. If we know Him, we can walk and rest in those promises.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Our family picture the day we moved out of our Denver apartment a year ago!

Our family picture the day we moved out of our first apartment a year ago!

I’m going to start celebrating now. Why not?

If you know Chris and me personally, you almost definitely know that the past year has brought a unique rhythm to our lives.

We’ve spent a large majority of the past year apart. Chris will be graduating in May with his PharmD and has spent the last 9 months completing his intern rotations. This means that every six weeks, he has had to move to a new pharmacy in a new city to live and work apart from Poppy¬†and me. So, aside from rotation five that started just before Thanksgiving and ended after the Christmas holidays, we’ve only had weekends together.

Now, trust me – I know this is nothing to complain about compared to what many families endure (yep, I’m talking about you, highly-respected and oft-prayed-for military families), but it’s still been difficult to spend so much time apart.

I’m generally a planner, and I love making lists. So, long before that first rotation started, I had a rough draft of a plan in mind about how we could keep in touch – ways that I could bless and encourage Chris from afar and maintain our family relationships among the three of us.

*****

FaceTime aka “Phone Daddy”

The same could be achieved through Skype or any other video chat, but we chose to invest in iPhones before this year apart started so that we’d have easier and near-constant access to communicating with one another.

FaceTime with Daddy

FaceTime with Daddy

Especially for Poppy, the ability to see Chris each night and have him pray with us before bedtime, or the chance to “invite” him to a dance party we girls are having, or to even show him something here around the house has been invaluable.

We got better at this as the year went on, but we now have Daddy pray for Poppy¬†every night before bed. It’s a wonderful way to include him in some of our day-to-day routines and keep the two of them on one another’s mind.

Texting

Chris and I have always been very accustomed to communicating via text, and so it was easy to maintain that. Some balk at texting, but it’s a true lifeline for us! There’s something nice about being able to send anything to him at any time and not having to try to remember every detail throughout the day until we’re able to talk on the phone.

I also send a fair amount of photos and videos. Whether it’s a funny meme I saw that I want to share or the latest video of Poppy’s hiccups (um, yeah :)), it makes me feel connected to him to share even the small, silly, random, and often pointless stuff with him.

The exact type of moment I don't want Chris to miss out on.

The exact type of moment I don’t want Chris to miss out on.

Daily Letters

I have written Chris a letter to read for every night he has to go to sleep without me. I’ve actually written more than that (usually for any day that we don’t see him when he awakes and goes to sleep), but Chris reads them consistently before he goes to bed.

This idea is not my own. In fact, my mama used to write me letters when I was young. I remember how awesome it was to have a piece of her each day, even though we were apart. Sometimes she wrote gentle reminders about minding my manners, playing nicely with my brother, etc. Sometimes she would write backwards so I had to read the message using a mirror. There are lots of fond memories from those days, and I know I have at least some of the letters saved (somewhere!).

For Chris, I try to always write letters that build him up. He is encountering new challenges and faces each day, and regardless of whether or not I’m there when he walks in the door at night, I still want to be his biggest cheerleader. Words of affirmation are important to him – it’s one of his love languages (thankfully I have a lot of words!)

I also share verses, dreams, prayers, and even some (often lame ;)) chemistry or pharmacy jokes. Many a time, Poppy¬†has drawn in a letter for Daddy, and we’ve also traced her hands and feet for him several times. Weeks I’ve been pregnant over the past year, I’ve shared with him baby’s current development on the weekly “change day.” They’re short letters, but I’d like to think they pack a punch. And, I’m happy that I’ve been able to consistently get them written for him! He has saved each one. ‚̧

Care Packages

Originally, I thought it would be fun to mail him some care packages throughout his year, but honestly, I haven’t done it! I do believe I mailed him a card and gift card once, but never a big package. I have, however, hand-delivered a care package and also sent him away many weeks with some kind of goodie. I loved care packages in college, so I thought it was a great idea. Sometimes I just felt like he wasn’t actually gone long enough for it to have the same effect for him now as it did for us in undergrad.

“The Super Daddy”

Bet you've never seen Chris in tights before, huh?

Bet you’ve never seen Chris in tights before, huh?

Poppy¬†and I ordered Chris an awesome book his first Father’s Day. I had seen a recommendation for it on an online forum, and I fell in love with the concept. I simply emailed a good photo of Chris – good as in one where he’s looking straight at the camera, etc (all photos of Chris are good ;)) – and this company inserts his face into a book! The book is called The Super Daddy, and it was done by a company called Flatten Me. (Google them… pretty cool!)

I have to admit that I had the book put up for the longest time. Poppy¬†was at the stage where the pages wouldn’t have been safe with her! She’s growing up and learning how to treat things more carefully, though, and so I was happy to pull this book off the shelf to read to her! We must have read it a dozen times in the first few days. She loved it! And, it made me feel good about keeping Daddy on her thoughts and seeing his face.

Mid-Week Visits

In many ways, it has been our mid-week visits that have been most special. They truly are “splurge” visits, and I recognize how truly blessed we are that we can have such visits. I am in the most wonderful situation right now, cocooned by family, where I can come and go as needed. And, though Chris can’t be with us during the week, he still has evening time that we can spend time together.

"Hotels are fun, Daddy!"

“Hotels are fun, Daddy!”

Many times, we have had to stay in a hotel for the night due to his student housing accommodations, but other times we’ve have been able to stay with the friends or family members that Chris has been able to stay with! Double blessing!

Making a Few Lists

One thing that I didn’t plan to do but that has come in very handy from time to time is making a list of things we need to discuss. Texting is great for staying in contact but not usually the best for making big decisions or recounting lengthy stories. At the beginning of the year, I was struggling to remember everything on the weekend that would have cropped up over the past week that I needed to talk to Chris about.

I literally made a note in my phone titled, “Things to Tell Chris.” Now, whenever something comes to mind, I write it down there and feel confident that we’ll address it when we have time!

Additionally, as a list-maker, I feel better about thinking ahead to the weekend and giving Chris as good a head’s up as possible about what to expect. He’s transitioning from one routine and schedule to another every few days, and I want to respect his time. I don’t want to have his whole weekend planned out of have so many things on my to-do list that we don’t get good time together. So, I plan ahead as best I can!

A Surprise Visit!

I only managed to pull this off once, but it was awesome! I arranged for my parents to keep Poppy¬†overnight so I could drive to have a date night with Chris! It was awesome to surprise him in this way. Frankly, this was the biggest surprise for him I’d probably ever pulled off in our marriage, so it was a big deal!

The best self-portrait we could get on our date night.

The best self-portrait we could get on our date night.

Guarding Our Time Together

Ultimately, throughout our year, I’ve tried to always put Chris first. I want him to know that our marriage is more important to me than a girls’ night or a weekend away, etc. I have tried to make careful decisions that help us make the most of the time that we do have together instead of scheduling him out of the picture. I think I had to be more intentional about this at the beginning when I was still adjusting to my new living arrangement and was overwhelmed with opportunities to get involved in the community. Otherwise, this has been kind of a no-brainer.

*****

I know many of you have prayed for us throughout our year and helped us out in various ways. We really thank you for the support!

What methods do you use to stay close to far-away loved ones?

God has a plan for your life

It’s not untrue, but I argue it’s oversimplified.

I know we have all been told this; and more than likely, we have also said it to those around us at some point. Graduation maybe? In the thick of a trial, spoken as encouragement that things will get better and trials aren’t in vain?

I think I’m learning something new. And, as always, I fully recognize that i just might be the last to catch on. But in case I’m not, I will continue.

I am beginning to realize that when we speak of God’s plans for our lives, we should speak humbly. Trembling maybe. Not really out of fear – God has not given us a spirit of fear – but perhaps out of sheer recognition that our lives may deal us¬†that which is far different than our expectations. We should understand the dying of self that God will require so that we can walk as He did – so that we are prepared for heaven.

Think of Stephen. In Acts chapter 6-7, we learn that a hero of the faith becomes a martyr of the faith. I highly doubt that when we speak to the 18-year-old graduate among us we are envisioning that God may ask them to die for their faith.

Or when you pray with your husband that you are giving your fertility and all family planning to God that you’re envisioning recurrent pregnancy loss.

I know I didn’t.

So what does that mean exactly?

Does it mean that we have to refrain from cooing at the newborn about the plans God has for him while visions of a godly profession, godly choices, godly family flash through our mind?

I say perhaps no and yes.

I know you’ve heard it before that God isn’t a genie in a bottle. That following Christ doesn’t give you a perfect life. Or an easy life. Or anything that the world sees as “good.”

He promises us that this world will be difficult to live in, at best. Jesus says,

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you willhave tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

And yet, we can still find peace and joy. You know why? It’s right there at the end of that verse – Jesus has died and risen again. He has overcome all the evil of this world. He reigns. And, even though we will not endure even one day on this earth without feeling the effects of sin, God promises to work it all out. If you love Him, you can have confidence that He is orchestrating your life. It may not be easy or fun or fit into our culture’s view of success, but it’s good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

So, the way I understand it, God absolutely does have a plan for your life. If you’re a child of His, you can rest in knowing that He will work it out for you. You can know for certain that life will deal you some tough stuff, perhaps even absolutely agnozing and horrific stuff. It will be hard. His plan may not always feel wonderful. Like Job, those around you – your closest friends and family – may abandon you, but God never leaves.

I pray that I can honestly and jofully proclaim that which Paul proclaimed:

And He said to me, ‚ÄúMy grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.‚ÄĚ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.¬†Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ‚Äôs sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And that I grasp the truth in what James says:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. РJames 1:8

I want that very much.

*****

If we encourage others that God’s plan for their life will be happy and easy and fun, I think we’re stopping short of the the reality He shows us through His Word. If, when we declare that God has a plan, we are gently reminding those around us to trust Him, to hold tightly to Him, and to prepare ourselves for the testing and strengthening¬†of our faith, I think we are much closer to the truth.

So much good

I’m going to say something crazy.

I don’t want to be who I was before I lost three babies.

I suppose it is a great paradox of my life so far – to hate that our babies died but to rejoice in their eternal lives; to hurt so badly with grief but to weep with joy over the strengthening of my faith; to believe that I have been blessed through suffering.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,¬†that the genuineness of your faith,¬†being¬†much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,¬†whom having not seen¬†you love. Though now you do not see¬†Him,¬†yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,¬†receiving the end of your faith‚ÄĒthe salvation of¬†your¬†souls.”
1 Peter 1:6-9

Church_with_rainbow

I can’t explain it, but I know some of you get it. Well, for all I know, all of you get it, and I’m the slow learner. It is so unfathomable that God can work so much good through so much bad.

Losing my babies and walking this path of repeated pregnancy loss is not something I wanted for my life. You know what I did want, though? I wanted great faith. I wanted God’s will for my life. I wanted my life to be so much richer than anything my tiny perspective could dream up. I promise you this: God is answering my prayers.

It hurts so bad, but I have never been more sure in my life: as this blog’s verse truthfully claims, He is working ALL things for good in my life, according to HIS purposes.

It’s not my place to guess why this has happened to us, or why your life’s struggle has happened to you. Certainly terrible things happen to us all – such is life on this marred earth. But, I will say this, no matter the why, God is near me. He is answering my prayers for my family through our struggle. He is providing joy and peace – oh what peace! – through the pain.

“The¬†Lord¬†is close¬†to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18

I want to encourage you today, whatever it is that you’re dealing with, that you don’t have to despair. Cry out to the Lord and know Him. He is near.

Finally, I leave you with a song about blessings. This world would tell you that blessings are only good things, but the Lord our God will always overcome evil with good:

Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this night, are Your mercies in disguise?