A worthwhile kind-of “Yes”

I was always afraid to do foster care.

I had a huge heart for adoption and for vulnerable children, but I was afraid to do foster care. 

I was afraid that my heart would be too open, too vulnerable, too susceptible to breaking if and when the foster babies would have to go. But here I am, after having four foster kids in nine months in our previous Colorado home, pushing through the piles of paperwork and waiting to be approved in New York to do it all again. It’s a hard “yes”, but it’s a worth-it-kind-of-yes.

My husband and I had tried ‘traditional’ adoption options for years and came up against many strange, frustrating, unusual and somewhat unbelievable circumstances (which I’ll save for another time). We had come to the conclusion that adoption just wasn’t going to work out for us and maybe we should just move to Africa where there were lots of orphans that needed to be loved. It may sound drastic, but we were desperate to love children and after all we’d been through with many different agencies in the U.S., we thought that might be the easiest route. We had plans to visit an organization to see if we might get some confirmation to be house parents to a big group of orphaned children who were facing homelessness. We were ready and willing,  and were praying that if this was the place we needed to be, that God would make it clear. On the way to Uganda, Dan and I both assumed we’d be flying home in ten days to pack our bags, move back and start our new lives as house parents on the other side of the world.

We spent 10 full days in different parts of Uganda and loved our time there. We fell in love with the culture, the people, and of course, the beautiful children. Despite our incredible time there, it was on the plane ride home that we both realized that we weren’t supposed to live there. We couldn’t explain it at the time, we just knew- and it surprised us.  But one thing we did know as we were traveling across the world back to our home in Colorado, is that we were being called to take care of the vulnerable in our own community. 

Despite the many fears and all the excuses we were tempted come up with, we decided to come home and sign up for foster care training. What happened over the next year feels like a blur and yet, at the same time, feels like a lifetime. We got certified in March of 2016 and a few days after our home study was finalized, we got our first call. Two boys under two. It was quite a shock to our system to have a two-year-old and a six-month-old show up on our doorstep to live with us. We didn’t sleep for days. We cried every night. I’m not sure I even had a meal. It was chaotic and overwhelming, but it was an unusually quick placement and to our (somewhat guilt-ridden) relief, they returned home after five days. We cried when they left. That began the whirlwind of our foster care experience where we opened our home and our hearts to two more sweet boys over the course of those next nine months. The emotional and physical ups and downs of foster care are wide-ranging, and as most significant things in life are, it’s difficult to put the experience into words. One thing I know from this experience; it literally takes a village. I’ll be forever grateful to our beautiful community that surrounded us during those first weeks of each placement. It was life-altering to have a child show up at my home and all-of-a-sudden be charge of their 24-hour care. It takes time to learn them, to learn what they need and what they like and don’t like. It takes time to adjust and figure out new routines and work schedules. It’s not a slow process but a dive into the deep-end kind of process. The people who came around us offering meals, baby clothes, formula, diapers, and a helping hand were the ones who kept us afloat. The other thing I know from this experience, is that the “Yes” is terrifying, but it’s worth it. Of course, the first days and weeks of each placement rocked our world and if I’m honest, often felt like we had made a terrible decision. But as time went on and we learned new rhythms, it got easier to breathe and go about our days together with the new little one in our home. And as many would imagine, we fell in love with each boy. The falling in love part was the best. To get to a place of a healthy attachment and to see the child’s face light up when I came into a room was deep joy to my heart. To know that this boy felt safe and loved was such a gift to me and I know to his heart as well. The falling in love didn’t come without the ache, though. The ache of knowing that this boy wasn’t “mine” forever. The ache of saying goodbye when the time came for each one of them to go back home. Brene Brown says this well in The Gifts of Imperfection; “Joy is as thorny and sharp as any of the dark emotions. To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees- these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain.” 

Today I sit in my kitchen in a quiet home after a full-night’s sleep. We have no little ones to care for at the moment as we wait for paperwork to get sorted out and the final approval from the state. My third foster boy whom we had with us for almost half a year turns three this week. This time last year we were planning a party for him alongside of his mom who loves him dearly. We had already seen him return to his mom and had our fourth foster baby living with us at the time. It was a full house as we celebrated this little one’s life. I remember being exhausted but with a grateful contentment of knowing we were exactly where we were supposed to be. And as I wait here today in anticipation of our fifth placement, whenever that may be, I can walk forward with confidence and joy, knowing that it’s a worthwhile kind of “Yes”. 

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Always Rooting for You

I sit here and cannot move. My mind is going a million minutes. My heart is throbbing. my fingers won’t stop clicking and scrolling. Having a semi-open adoption without contact leaves me always wondering. Always curious. Knowing our daughter’s first mom is somewhere in our area always has my eyes wide open. Searching. Investigating.

One morning I was driving home and saw a women in one of the worst possible circumstances. My heart sank. That familiar lump back in my throat. My heart saddened. My knees weakened. I didn’t turn the car around this time like I have in the past when I thought I spotted her. I didn’t want confirmation this time. I didn’t want to see the truth before my eyes. I didn’t want to know that she was in the condition as the women I saw. Maybe some things are better left unknown.

Is ignorance bliss?

I continued to drive. I kept looking back at my daughter who was drifting off to slumberland. I kept replaying the meeting I had with her birth mom in the hospital room right after delivery. I remember her charm and it didn’t match the women I saw this morning. The twists and turns of someone’s personal life can benefit one but deteriorate  another.  I literally couldn’t stop thinking about her. That women. The one to place her baby in someone else’s arms, my arms.

As I was feeding Brooklyn before laying her down, I hopped on my phone to dig further. I yearned to settle this feeling in the bottom of my stomach. The pit. Something I haven’t done in awhile or felt in a while. I searched her name. Saw nothing new. I hit the back button and there, new, different information I have never seen before. Months of videos, pictures, affirmations, bible passages. All very uplifting and inspirational. That women I saw this morning, was NOT who I thought and I have never been more relieved. She is everything opposite of what I saw that morning. I hate to admit and realize the assumption I had placed on her. I also have no idea what her daily life looks like, so every day I choose to pray for her.

When we started the adoption process I had no idea what an open adoption would look like. As with my own, I have never known my biological parents. I have always been unaware of their likes and dislikes; where they grew up; what they did for a living; or sadly, if they are even still alive. Since we do not have direct contact with my daughter’s birth mom, I am always thinking, wondering, assuming as I am with my own adoption.

I am always thanking her in my heart for choosing a life for Brooklyn that she has for herself. Every day I think about her. I wonder how she is living her life. I hear so many people who have open adoptions that are equally thankful for them as well as have their reservations. I can’t help but to think if our lack of contact is something that is beneficial or harder. Is it different for me than my husband simply because I am adopted and I am always curious about my birth parents. I always think about what would be easier; to have more communication or less. What is the healthiest. Does healthiest even match up with difficulty. Even when our child is placed in our arms, has our last name, I am still always thinking about the what if’s, the how comes, the how are yous. I don’t have dreams about an ideal relationship because adoption isn’t an ideal situation. It’s complicated. It’s a never-ending journey of boundaries, questions, loaded answers, future plans, bravery, heartache, selfless love. I do, however, dream about my replies to my daughter’s questions regarding her placement. Answers that make her questions feel welcomed and answers that always provide love and support. I want to have open communication with her even though we may not have that with her biological family, and may not have all the answers. But we can sit with her in the questions.

To my daughters birth mama, wherever you are, I am rooting for you. Your daughter is rooting for you. Our family is rooting for you. I pray that you continue down the path you are on and keep yourself the main priority. Because of you, your daughter is well loved and taken care of.

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The Next Step

I’ve shared our adoption story to our beautiful third son pretty openly. There was a lot of brokenness and a lot of beauty that paved the road to the hospital in a sunny Florida town where we first met him. There’s one vulnerable piece I have only shared with a few. It’s hard to share because I always think of people within the adoption community as having so much grit, and strength. And here is where I vulnerably admit that I didn’t always. I think it’s important to share because I lost hope, and I’m on the other side with a beautiful son. It’s important to share because I wanted to give up, and I wonder if that’s something more of us might have in common too.

In the weeks leading up to the (unexpected) arrival of our son, Frankie, not a lot was going right. Our new spring roof had a sudden summer leak, our basement was flooded and our attic collecting water. A storm brought a giant tree limb down across our patio, shattering a string of patio bulb lights and narrowly missing our older boys. We had no news to share when kind friends asked about our adoption, and no updates to give our family who had generously poured into helping us raise funds to bring our child home. We were bleeding financially and rapidly losing hope. We had made it through several years of unexpected infertility, two failed adoption placements, and now here we were. Still in the wait.

Potential situations trickled in, but so many requested families with no biological children. So many were “no’s”.

It was summer; we filled the days with sun-soaked hours at our neighborhood pool, evening games of baseball, popsicles and catching lightning bugs in mason jars. But while the days grew longer, my heart grew weary and restless with the wait. Maybe we weren’t meant to grow our family. Maybe we would support adoption in other ways. Maybe giving up would hurt less than the waiting, and hearing no, and hoping.

One night after our oldest son, Henry’s baseball game, I stood in the parking lot with a dear friend. She asked me how we were doing, if there was news. Truth and tears that had been buried, hidden, bubbled up to the surface, “We have no news. Nothing. Honestly, I just can’t see it happening.” There’s so much optimism required in the process. I felt like I needed to be incredibly positive all the time, and couldn’t show my worry or doubt. It loosed something in me to tell the truth to this trusted friend. She listened and gently nudged me to hold on and to take the next step.

And then, a few weeks later, a phone call. Asking us to consider a situation. We had no doubts. In fact, when our adoption consultant couldn’t reach me and called Patrick he answered for me; for us. Yes, consider us. Holding on to that strand of hope. That phone call was the first time we heard about our son. 24 hours later he was swaddled in our arms.

We didn’t know if we’d ever hold him, and walked through times that we strongly doubted we would.  What I now know is that we couldn’t speed up becoming his parents simply by trusting enough, or thwarted plans to call him son by losing hope in the process.

I believe in sovereignty and grace. Lots and lots of grace. I believe in truth telling and finding community with people (even one other person) who you can be totally honest with. People who you trust with your fears and doubts. People who listen, and then point you back to truth, and hope.

Sometimes we feel like we are called to something great and we have to go from where we are to something great. But the truth is you just have to go from where you are to the next step. Maybe the next step is filling out an agency application, and maybe it’s buying a cute crib sheet. Maybe it’s waiting for a court date, or for results from a doctor’s appointment. Maybe it’s acknowledging your doubt and fear, and then walking forward anyway. Every time you feel doubt or fear rise up, let hope overtake that fear, and just take the one next step. You’re not going it alone; link arms with us. We’ll walk forward together.

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Naming My Grief, Moving Forward Towards Healing

 

“ The pain doesn’t stop because we are more educated, but the healing can become more effective.”

– Ashley Mitchell, President Lifetime Healing, LLC


I never wanted to hold him after he was born.  I thought “if I hold him I won’t ever be able to let him go, I will be too attached.”  You want to know something funny?  I was already attached.  When you carry a baby to term, when you are the life source for that unborn child, whether you wanted this or not, you are attached!  Before I could stop myself, I leaned up toward the doctor to take that tiny new baby boy into my arms.  That sacred sound.  That first cry of my son. It is a sound I will never forget. And I know that on the other side of the door was his mother, and she wept.

At the age of 25, I found myself in an unexpected pregnancy.  I was alone and terrified.  The only reality I could grasp was that I pregnant and I needed to not be pregnant. There was only one way I knew how to do that. A fear based decision. Abortion.

As I sat in the clinic and waited for the results of my ultrasound I remember every inch of my body screaming, get out!  I couldn’t be here, but I couldn’t move.  I was glued to that spot.  This was my new reality.

I couldn’t face society with an unplanned pregnancy.  I couldn’t destroy my family with an unplanned pregnancy.  I was broken at what I was willing to consider, to sacrifice out of fear and protection for my loved ones.

The nurse said something that changed the course of my life forever, that changed the very identity of who I am today.  “You are too far along and we can’t help you.”

I walked out of that clinic and never looked back. Adoption became my option.  

I never had 100% clarity that what I was doing was right.  I don’t know if that is ever possible.  I think you do the best you can with all the information in front of you.  There are always forms of coercion, there are always mis-steps, there are always going to be options.  For me, I made a choice based on the circumstances and the education and I live with those consequences every day, for the rest of my life, good and bad.

You prepare yourself for the days ahead.  You read and you listen and you ask questions.  You study the “medical” process of giving birth and you are proactive in your potential emotional outcomes.  But nothing can ever prepare you for the reality of what is ahead.  

As I prepared to leave the hospital after spending three sacred and amazing and devastating days with my son it was time to say goodbye.  Say goodbye.  But he was still alive, he was breathing and healthy and perfect.  Grief.  Pain. Trauma.

As I walked down the hall of the hospital I was empty and broken.  My father was carrying most of my weight as I leaned into him.  And then I saw them at the end of the opposite hall.  Celebrating, laughing, bright balloons and joy.  I felt as if my son had died on one end and on the other, a celebration of life.

That is adoption.  Great love and joy built from great loss and brokenness.  

I spent the next years of my life in a limbo that about killed me.  Everything about me had shifted, the very identity of who I was.  I couldn’t go back to my old life but now I was a mother without a child, that ambiguous loss and grief kept me stuck in my own personal hell and I didn’t know how to escape.  No one was talking to me, no one was helping me to understand my emotions, my regrets, my loss.   Why was no one talking to me?  Why were they so afraid to see what was happening to me?

For me, the answers came at a tragic cost.  After years of self-destructive behaviors and carelessness, I almost lost my life.  And almost cost another their life.  After a week of lock-down in a mental health facility, time in jail and lots of counseling the fog started to lift.  I had a name for what had happened.  I had answers on how to cope.  I had clarity and forgiveness for myself and for others.  

I am a birth mother.  I am a birth mother forever.  He is a part of me and I think about him every single day of my life.  I am learning to coexist with the pain and grief every single day of my life.  The grief doesn’t get smaller, it doesn’t go away.  But I have grown, learned to make room for it, learned to have a healthy relationship with it and I respect it.

11 years post placement and I have changed so much.  I have talked with countless women that have shared similar paths.  That wished so deeply that there would have been something available to help them, something that could have helped them heal and cope in healthier ways.

That is why I created Lifetime Healing. Lifetime Healing provides support and empowers adoption agencies to give birthmothers the type of post-care they deserve. To walk with them through their grief, not only in the first six months after placement but whenever they need it. To raise the bar and set the new national standard for post placement care.  Women are going to choose adoption, and when they do they will need support for life.  We don’t ever just get over it.  

Our call to action?  We invite you to share Lifetime Healing, LLC with the agencies, law groups, hospitals, parent resource centers and other adoption professionals in your area.  We hope to see this curriculum available FOR ANY WOMAN that chose or that will choose to place her child(ren) for adoption. If we are going to stand with these women during the destruction, then we must stand with them in the rebuild.  No woman should be left to grieve on her own.  Isolation is the destruction of the human soul.

I believe that adoption can be done well.  I am blessed, after many years of darkness, to be in a respectful and honest open adoption relationship.  Just like any other relationship in my life I work at it.  We have hard conversations, we respect boundaries and we learn to compromise and remain flexible.  We understand our rights, roles, and responsibilities.  We understand that our son matters, his voice matters and we will continue to do things to honor his needs and desires, even when it is hard, even when it hurts.

I will never stop loving and hurting and questioning and wanting and needing and growing and becoming.  I am a birth mother forever.  Stand with us so we can stand with others to provide a lifetime of free post placement care.

Adoption is truly the most complex and beautiful thing that I have ever had the privilege of being associated with.  I will never stop fighting for best practices and higher standards.  Join me won’t you?

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When Transracial Adoption Hurts

I go to one of three grocery stores every week, depending on my mood and my errand route. There is one in particular that is very close to my home, and I often prefer it due to the fact that it’s most usually near empty. It’s easy to get in and out of and there is always that one shopping cart available for Shepherd. The car one that is so incredibly heavy to move around, but brings him enough delight to fill my whole shopping trip with smiles and toddler “vroooom” sounds. There’s only one problem with this grocery store, and it’s the woman whose shift schedule I clearly cannot avoid.

You see, when I first started coming here, I always thought she was in a bad mood the days I came shopping. But over the course of the last year and a half, I have discovered what I now know to be true: she doesn’t approve of the way my family looks.

I would never make such a grand judgment call if I were not positive and if they were not proven through a series of weekly events that have made me passionate enough to write about it here. We enter the checkout line politely and unpack our groceries onto the belt. Shepherd loves this part. He repeats, “Help you? Help you?” as he leans forward over his car steering wheel and grabs each item clumsily, then flopping it onto the counter. Meanwhile, the woman refuses to make eye contact with him or me. Eye contact is pretty much a standard if you’re working in customer service, in my opinion. But if the story stopped there I wouldn’t be writing this. She scans my items, never saying a word, never looking at my face, and never even telling me my total. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a brash, “You can scan now,” though oftentimes our entire checkout process will be in complete silence. And so I load my bags into my cart in awkward silence and push our cart away. Every. Single. Time.

You may be thinking, “This lady is just grumpy, how do you know it’s about race?” Well I’ll tell you. You see, I don’t always shop with Shepherd. Sometimes my husband will hang with him and I’ll run out for a few things alone. These times, I make it a point to enter her line (avoidance is not my forte,) and when I am alone my experience is not just different, but it is as if I am talking to an entirely different human being all together. She greets me with a lovely smile and questions, “How are you today? Did you find everything okay?” I respond politely, but her chatter doesn’t stop there. She inquires about the food I’m purchasing and even asks what I plan to make for dinner. It feels as if she’s an old friend. She tells me my total, asks me if I have my grocery store membership card, asks me about my day and my plans, and talks to me as I finish the transaction and walk away.

For the first six months, this happened 100% of the time. She would act one way when Shepherd and I were together, and the other way when I was alone. There was never an exception. So, for those first six months, I came to this conclusion: she must not like children.

Except over the course of the next year, I collected a variety of store experience with her sandwiched in line between white parents of white children, and the situation was even more obvious and disheartening. She would chat and giggle with the white children and their parents, and I would get the cold, harsh side of her personality. Only to begin exiting the line to hear her begin chatting in a bubbly fashion to the family behind me.

I do not think she knows, when I am alone, that I am the mother of the black son, because she never looks at my face when we are together.

This has happened time and time and time again over the last year and a half, to the point where I decided to ask a friend, a black male friend, if he experiences this often around here. He said yes. He then told me something I will never forget, “It no longer matters that you are white. When you are with him you are in the presence of racism, you will be treated as if you are lesser.” This perfectly summed up my experience in this one example amongst many I have encountered. Lesser. That’s the feeling I was feeling. Inferiority.

Transracial adoption is a delicate subject, just like anything involving matters of race and ethnicity. But however delicate it is, as a mother and father of a black child, our voices should rise up as those in favor of treating every individual as one deserving love and respect. For us, skin color has never dictated how we are to love, and from the moment Shepherd’s mother found us fit to be his parents, our love for him has interwoven into every fiber of our being, and it was all founded upon her decision to place him into our arms to love and raise and nurture.

I imagine that our experience as a family of differing colors is quite different than the family the next town over, the next state over, or across the country and world. Every territory has it’s own culture, all within one great big culture that is always growing, always shifting, and hopefully always progressing towards improvement. However, this truth does not make the sting of racial injustice less painful.

I cannot claim to know what racial injustice feels like on a personal level, but I feel it for my son. And that is enough for me to say this: don’t let transracial adoption scare you. You will love your child the same, no matter what they look like. However, the world may not. And that, my friends, is all the more reason to raise your voices and let your love fight battles that cannot be fought with fire.

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BETTER TOGETHER

My husband and I entered the adoption world blind. Scared. Alone. Uneducated. Fearful. Excited. Apprehensive. We did not know anyone who had adopted. We didn’t know anyone looking to adopt. We only knew one person who placed before. Every time we spoke about adoption people would ask about surrogacy as an alternative option. At times I felt very empty and other times I felt naive about how our story would unfold. Since my husband wasn’t exactly on board right away, I began to look around on Instagram for stories told. I was searching for hope and searching for comfort. I was seeking for stories of both failures and success. I wanted to find proof that these journeys are guided by God with faith restored… for myself and for my husband.

I found accounts that I was immediately drawn too. Families like mine, some not. Some of these families were local but some 1200 miles away. We all had different reasons for adopting, different visions of how we were growing our families. I read of different preferences each family specified or didn’t specify. I saw babies and their birth families entering these lives of adoptive families as if they belonged together the whole time. I encounter families who felt lead to different races and ethnicities. Some families choosing foster care first then hopes to adopt. Families who chose private lawyers versus national agencies. Some of these friends reached out to me publicly and some preferred to stay private.

The further we got into the process the closer I became to finding my adoption tribe. My adoption tribe consists of adoptive parents with and without kids, birth mothers although I still have hopes to connect with birth fathers. Adoptee’s are part of my adoption tribe. This tribe has turned strangers to friends to families. There is no way I could have gone 7 months and beyond without these individuals and their families. We have connected on levels that are so scarce, so sacred. I have learned to open my heart and mind further by meeting these individuals. The complexity and uniqueness of all of our stories have connected us on levels that others peers and relatives may not quite understand.

Recently I met with a group of ladies, all who I met online. Sounds silly, I know, but I won’t be surprised if we all think the same thing. We all come from different parts of the process- in the middle of home study, three-year post placement, and recently matched with babes coming in next month or so. We didn’t skip a beat and immediately started sharing stories that we may not share with the world outside of adoption. It was so comforting when I kept hearing the reassurance, “this is a safe space” around the table of 7 ladies. During the 2 hours we were together, I felt like I knew these women my whole life. I felt connected to each one for different reasons. I didn’t want to say goodbye but I knew that we are forever intertwined even if it remains through pictures.

I know we meet people in the oddest places and sometimes we are just supposed to be in their lives for a season. The friendships I have made in this community are solid.

Raw.

Real.

Because this journey has so many high highs and the lowest of lows, we are better together.

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Waiting, Watching, and Wallowing: When You Aren’t Yet a Mom on Mother’s Day

I grew up in old school church.   You know the type:  wooden pews, four-hundred page hymnals, red carpet, carved communion table, Jesus picture (with light) behind the pulpit, King James Bible.   

Every Mother’s Day, the pastor would stand up front and beckon all the mothers in the congregation to rise.  The rest of us would applaud them.  After the service, the pastor would stand at the back of the church and hand out single-stemmed roses to each mother.

It was a sweet gesture, and of course, we want to honor mothers, but looking back as an adult, one who didn’t give birth to her children, the whole situation had to have been incredibly awkward for some.  I wonder if there were a handful of ladies who didn’t attend services every Mother’s Day.  I wonder how those who did attend, but didn’t have the title of “mom,” felt remaining seated while we showered adoration upon the other women.   

Mother’s Day is loaded.   It means watercolor greeting cards and cheesy “mom” jewelry.   It means an awkward but well-intentioned breakfast-in-bed.   It means flowers and homemade art.   And it is everywhere, for weeks on end, beating those who haven’t entered into mommy membership.

I spent a handful of these holidays waiting.  Waiting for the call that would change my life.  Waiting for someone to decide I deserved to be a mommy.  Waiting for another mother to surrender her baby to me.

I spent holidays watching.  Watching others be handed cards and roses.  Watching others rub rounded bellies and bask in the new mom glow.  Watching honor be bestowed upon every other woman, it seemed, but me.    

Waiting and watching.  Waiting and watching.  And then, of course, wallowing.  Wallowing in the waiting and watching.  Wallowing in a pity party so epic there should have been invitations and cocktails and confetti.   Wallowing in hopelessness, jealousy, despair, frustration, and apathy.

This is completely normal, but it is not easy.   There is no way around the difficulties that present themselves during any adoption journey.  You must walk through the pain.   It’s frightening to think that after whatever loss brought you to adoption, you are forced to travel further through hardship.  Seemingly, the journey will never end.   You ping-pong between hurdle after hurdle.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  

It’s exhausting.  Infuriating.  Disheartening.  

To the woman waiting to adopt, to celebrate Mother’s Day, I want to know you are not alone.  Many of us have been where you are.   We get you.   We see you.   We cherish you.    We will celebrate with you when your day comes.   We will encourage you.   We are here, the midst of the crowds.   

This is exactly what Kindred + Co. exists.  So we can be there for one another, uplifting the ones who are weak and discouraged.  Celebrating the victories big and small.   Loving on moms and moms-to-be.   We are here.  You are here.  We are in this together.   

For more encouragement on your journey, check out Encouragement for the Adoption and Parenting Journey:  52 Devotions and a Journal, co-authored by me and Madeleine Melcher (an adoptee).  

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WE ARE MOTHERHOOD

I remember being in elementary school and learning about acrostic poems. I think everyone in my family got a poem that year, their name in bright marker down the side of the page and an adjective for each letter. A was always “awesome”, N was “nice”, and you could usually bank on their actual name for the first letter because that seemed the most obvious (and easiest). That year I set out to describe my mom acrostically for Mother’s Day: M is for mom, O is for outstanding, and M is for marvelous. As we approach Mother’s Day this year, I’m so glad we don’t have to relegate only three adjectives to motherhood. Since becoming a mom, then struggling through infertility and then bringing our son home through adoption, I’ve seen it take on so many different shapes and colors and sizes. It’s so much more than I could have ever hoped or imagined.


Motherhood is a positive pregnancy test, a swelling belly, a grainy black-and-white ultrasound picture taped to the refrigerator. It’s a newborn’s first cries and a drowsy nursing babe.

Motherhood is a stack of paperwork, signed documents, and background checks. It’s having a social worker in your home, getting a physical, and selling t-shirts to fundraise. It’s waiting. It’s hoping, and praying.

Motherhood is waiting expectantly for a due date and watching it pass with empty arms. It’s folding up tiny onesies, washed muslin blankets and tucking them away. It’s the waves of loss that wash over you and threaten to hold you under, and it’s the hope that rises and pushes you forward.

Motherhood is meeting your son when he’s three days old. It’s the smell of his newborn skin and the softness of his dark silken hair. It’s your heart whispering “there you are, I’ve been waiting for you”.

Motherhood is the first glimpse of your daughter’s face, thousands of miles away. It’s the tear-soaked photo you tuck into the visor of your car, press between the pages of your Bible, and carry with you. It’s crossing an ocean and an unspoken number of obstacles to finally hold her in your arms.

Motherhood is the hope that this will be the month. It’s another twenty dollars spent on a test, and it’s the hope that lingers after the bitter disappointment has worn off.

Motherhood is a middle of the night phone call. It’s scrambling to gather up clothes, and readying bottles. It’s standing knee deep in the messy and hard. It’s saying yes to getting attached, it’s being prepared to let go.

Motherhood is sitting through that baby shower and celebrating with your mama friends. It’s bathroom floor, behind the closed door sobbing. It’s waiting for your turn.

Motherhood is loving your baby more than yourself. It’s choosing his life, feeling his first kicks and hiccups. It’s handing him to his forever mama, it’s saying goodbye.

Motherhood is love, and courage, and kindness. It’s hope, it’s loss, it’s joy. It’s longing, it’s waiting, it’s celebrating. Motherhood is perseverance. It’s fueled by lots of coffee and lots of love and lots of grace. I see it in the eyes of a new mama, in the waiting pleas and prayers of a hopeful adoptive mama, and in the beautiful face of my son’s birth mom.

Wishing you a happy Mother’s Day, whether it’s your first of many, or you are several generations in, or if it’s a title your heart longs for and you are waiting in the trenches. May you be spurred on and carried along by those who do it so well and lovingly around you. We, together, are motherhood. We are better together.

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Can Anyone Relate?

These are the comments and questions that live in my head on a daily basis. Can anyone relate? Just me? Am I normal? Please tell me yes.

 

Hey, popular media, how about you make some movies where one out of every eight of the characters is struggling with infertility. Be relatable or something.

 

Oh, look! Another movie preview about an accidental pregnancy that ends with a convenient love story between the biological mother and biological father of the child. I will now punch the wall and attempt to get my hands on that movie script so I can light it on fire.

 

Whatever. I barely watch television anyway. Let’s get some stuff done. GROCERIES!

 

*In baby aisle* Hey, large companies who produce baby products–I realize you don’t want to “rock the boat” or anything, but maybe society as a whole would have an easier time understanding transracial adoption if you like…put colorful families on your packaging. Just a thought. I’d buy them. And then maybe fewer people would stare at my family when we’re out in public. Thanks for your consideration.

 

Speaking of…..do those people staring at my family not realize I can see their eyeballs? Ugh. Just ignore them and check your phone or something.

 

Ah! Look! Another healthy twenty week ultrasound in my news feed! PRAISE. Guess I’m headed to the gym’s punching bag later. Ugh. Now I feel guilty. BE HAPPY FOR OTHERS, JORDAN.

 

Wait, no. Your kids died and all of your ultrasounds came straight from the fiery pits of h–okay. Yeah. Giving myself a break. I think people call that grace?

 

Yes, giving myself grace for the fact that I am happysadangrymad about all the ultrasounds all up in my feed. *deletes all social media apps and throws phone into trash.* Enough of that. Let’s just go to the park. Get some fresh air. Relax.

 

Oh, no. Another park playdate with a group of moms complaining about their pregnant bellies while they chase their other zillion trillion biological kids around. Oh, no. They saw me. They are talking to me. I am now included in the conversation. Seriously? This again? Pregnancy complaints and husband bashing. Think fast. They are looking at you. Say something.

 

“I mean………I wish I was pregnant and I really like my husband.”

 

*blank stares*

 

Quick…..act like it’s time to get Shepherd back for his nap. No, wait, be sassy and tell her you’ll take the baby off her hands if it’s too much trouble. No. Don’t be dramatic. Just go home. This is why you don’t like the park during peak hours, Jordan. Remember this. On the way home I ponder why all the billionaires in the world don’t just fund all the adoptions.

 

Why can’t I be a billionaire so I can fund all the adoptions?

 

*Spends rest of day thinking about how to become a billionaire.*

 

 

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Unanswered Prayers

Sometimes in life we beg and beg and beg God for something and His answer isn’t what we want it to be. It’s not necessarily no but it’s something different than what we asked for. When prayers are answered we often hear of God’s faithfulness. We hear of His great plans. We hear about never losing hope and always having faith. But here’s my issue with that, aren’t those things true even when God doesn’t answer our prayers or when he answers them in a different way than we asked?

 

For years I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed that God would make me a mom. In my mind that meant me getting pregnant, carrying a baby for 9 months, and birthing that baby. Down the road I knew that it included adoption but first it would include those exact things. But God had something else in mind. But He was still faithful. He still had a plan. It was just different from mine. I know many people who have prayed for the same thing and that specific prayer has been answered in that very way. Does that mean that God is more faithful to that person than He is to me? Absolutely not. I say it again. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

There’s a Garth Brooks song actually called “Unanswered Prayers”. If you haven’t listened to it before, here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il4qOQGUGbo

 

The chorus in the song says

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs

That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
And the thing is they aren’t even unanswered prayers. What was I praying for? I was praying for God to make me a mama. And He did. He answered. He did it in the most beautiful way I could imagine. And I know I’ve said it before, if He had answered one of those prayers in the specific way I was hoping then I probably wouldn’t be sitting here watching my beautiful almost 2-year-old sleeping on the monitor. He knew exactly what He was doing. He was being faithful. He had a beautiful plan

I know it can be hard to see other people who see a positive pregnancy test after years of infertility or a heartbeat on an ultrasound after so many losses or an adoption match after so many “she didn’t choose you”. I am right there with you. In those moments, I go back to what I know. He is faithful. He loves me. He is right there with me. He is right there with you. In the doubt. In the fears. In the unanswered prayers. Cling to that. Hold on to hope. He will answer.

 

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