Thursday, May 30, 2013

Comparisons Stink

Two posts in one day?  I know!

Can I tell you a secret?  I haven't been feeling very happy lately.  I've been struggling with our adoption in general, especially the wait.  I hate to admit it but I've found myself thinking that we've been dealt an unfair hand in many things.  It's not that I don't realize that Nate and I have SO much to be thankful for and that we've been blessed in other ways, but I've been having a tough time focusing on the good things.  Thoughts of our 'someday' family have consumed my mind.  I'm not feeling balanced at all.

I just found this post by Proverbs 31 Ministries, and gave me the message I needed to hear.  Today has been a better day and I wanted to share...

Do you ever struggle with comparison? In adoption, comparison is a challenge to faith in waiting and confidence in making positive choices. Adoptive parents might suffer jealousy or doubt when comparing their story to other families'. Birth mothers might fear rejection after comparing their circumstances to prospective adoptive parents'. YOUR story is precious and unique...it can't be like someone else' story. Take encouragement from today's post 

"If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load." Galatians 6:3-5 (NIV)

Comparisons stink. They do.

Just when I think I've gotten to a good place in some area of my life, along comes someone or something that seems better in comparison. And my confidence shrinks back, takes the hand of doubt, and starts ransacking the peace right out of my heart and mind.

I know deep down that God can and will use everything for good in my life, even my areas of vulnerability. But honest to goodness, it's hard on a girl's heart.

Not too long ago, I was in a situation where something I'm very self-conscious about was magnified when compared to others' near-perfection. I was at the beach with several friends who have dancer's legs. And by dancer, I mean like twenty-year-old, ballerina-perfection legs.

I guess you could say I have dancer legs too if you are referring to the dancing hippo from Madagascar. Apparently, long, lean legs just aren't in my genetic makeup, even though I can eat healthy and exercise every bit as much as my ballerina-like friends.

So there I was on the beach. Comparing my vulnerable place to their perceived strength.

And in the private space of my most inner thoughts, I cried. I found myself feeling defeated and convinced that this area will always be a struggle for me.

Oh, I can make progress, for sure. Heaven knows, I do work on it. And most days, I see how God is using this all for good. But when comparison sneaks in, it can be hard. Worse than hard. It can just quite simply make me forget all the strengths I do have.

And when I forget, my heart shifts. I stop being thankful and instead become consumed by that thing I don't have.

Satan will always try to point out what's "wrong" to block out all that is right. And his whispers sound pretty convincing sometimes.

But that's a dangerous place to park your mind.

It's moments like these I find myself needing to soak in the truths of our key verses, Galatians 6:3-5, "If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load."

As I thought more about that day on the beach, I realized I wasn't prayed up. Knowing I might have some comparison issues, I should have asked God to help keep my focus on Him. Instead, I just found myself wallowing—and wallowing isn't of the Lord. Amen? Amen!

I share this because you need to know that we all struggle. I'm on a journey of learning. Just like you.

And I desperately need God's truth to bump into my weaknesses every single day. Only then can I get out of the shadow of doubt and into the life-giving reality of who God has made me to be. And see it as good. Not perfect. Not even close. But good. And good is good.

Dear Lord, forgive me for all of the times I've compared myself to others. I know that You have hand-picked all of my qualities. Help me to see these things as beautiful reminders of Your great love in creating me as Your daughter. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

For more daily encouragement, visit Lysa's Facebook page!

The Baby Wait Rant

In the past few months I’ve heard of a couple of adoption-related TV series that are getting ready to premier.  Totally excited, I’ve added reminders to my Outlook calendar to set these shows to record.  Every so often I check their websites to make sure I’m not missing anything.
Today I visited the site for The Baby Wait (on Logo, which is a channel I don’t think we get), and saw the tagline for the show: “What if you knew your newest addition could suddenly be subtracted?” under a picture of a young girl with tears pouring down her cheeks.  Ohhh… I am so unimpressed!
I did watch one episode of The Baby Wait a while back and felt ehh… so-so about it.  Yes, I was intrigued about the show for obvious reasons.  I learned a few things I didn’t know yet, being so early in our adoption process, and I thought it could be an awesome opportunity to change some of the outdated stereotypes that exist in the general population about adoption.  I was excited to see how different adoptions worked out, since every situation is unique. 
On the other hand, I saw a lot of scenes of the birthmother (a teenager) and her parents arguing about the adoption and a lot of hysterical crying – the birth grandparents would not allow the birthmother to live in their home if she chose to parent, so feeling like she had no other choice she placed her child for adoption.  Every so often the adoptive parents would make an appearance, cradling the baby and paranoid that the birthmother would “take the baby back” before the legal timeframe to relinquish custody (each state has different laws and different timeframes for this).
Looking at the tagline I mentioned above (and some of the photos from the show’s Website) makes me feel like the show’s creators are trying to spin the message that adoptive parents swoop in and take babies from (teenage) birthmothers without warning (sometimes with help from birth grandparents), leaving a path of destruction and pain, without a second thought (other than being paranoid about having their baby taken away).  They’re framing adoption as a tragedy.  Great, another negative stereotype.
Now, I’m not saying that the show shouldn’t express how emotional and painful adoption can be.  I’m not saying to not show the struggle involved.  I’m not saying not to show the birth family’s perspective.  Please, DO show all of those things!  Just make sure to show that the adoptive family is also struggling with emotions, and often times (from what I’ve heard at our adoption support group and read on some of my favorite blogs) care deeply for their birthmother.  Show situations involving birth and adoptive families of all ages and backgrounds (they DO exist, no matter what the media tries to make you believe).  Show the work put in on both sides of adoption, and show how the adoption triad grows and transforms over time once the intense emotions involved with birth and placement subside.  Basically, there is enough negativity involved with adoption so quit fueling the fire – just make it fair.  This goes for all adoption media – not just The Baby Wait.
Not long ago, I found a Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down list on AdoptiveFamilies.com.  The list included positives like Parents Magazine including an article entitled “Adoption Diaries,” Real Simple Magazine and their article “Uncommon Celebrations,” and many more.  Those receiving thumbs down were ABC’s Modern Family (a show we watch) for a recent episode in which an older sibling torments a younger sibling by claiming that he was adopted and that his “real mom” was coming to get him, and Babies-R-Us for forcing an "expected date" (often unknown for adoptive families) field be completed when making a registry, even though they do ask "Are you adopting?” 
All in all, I think I found another finalist for the Thumbs Down category in The Baby Wait.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What I Have Been Reading...First Blog Hop!

I recently joined OpenAdoptionBloggers.com and am really excited to participate in my first Blog Hop! 

This time the topic is:
What was the last book you read?

Three Christmases ago I received my favorite gift of all time… Nate surprised me with a Kindle!  Since then I have been reading more than ever.  The bad part is I sometimes go on Amazon and search for books that are similar to ones I’ve enjoyed in the past.  I’ll download a free sample of books I’m interested in and save them until I’m ready for a new book.  Now I’m excited to get through my list, but I’m a slow reader so I feel like I’ll never finish!  Needless to say, I’ve found two new trilogies I’m in love with and I’m reading them both as they come out.  I’m the type of person who likes to read one book or series all the way through (and watch the movies, if they’re released) and then move on to the next, so it’s been interesting for me to keep two story lines in my head…
I just finished “Shadow of Night” by Deborah Harkness.  This is the second book in her All Souls Trilogy.  I read the first book, “A Discovery of Witches: A Novel” last summer and re-read it this year before starting book two.  I’m not able to give a synopsis that does these books justice, so here’s what Amazon has to say:
                Discovery-
In a sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches became the "it" book of early 2011, bringing Deborah Harkness into the spotlight and galvanizing fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and the descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting story of magic and suspense. And the story continues in Book Two, Shadow of Night.”
Shadow-
Harkness’s much-anticipated sequel, Shadow of Night, picks up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending. Diana and Matthew time-travel to Elizabethan London and are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana searches for a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.”
What I love about these books so far is that they remind me of my favorites, Harry Potter and Twilight but are more “grown up” and touch on other subjects I’m interested in.  There are lots of descriptions of different cities and countries, and Harkness does a great job of painting a picture with her words.  She covers a lot of history, and “Shadow of Night” even touches on adoption when Diana and Matthew care for two children who might not have otherwise survived. 
What I love most about “Shadow of Night” is that Diana and Matthew become friends with actual historical figures I’ve studied in the past – Kit Marlowe, George Chapman, Thomas Harriot, Henry Percy, Sir Walter Raleigh, Mary Sidney, Elizabeth I and many more…  Their travels around Elizabethan London take me back to my own trip to London in 2006 where I spent a month visiting Shakespeare’s theatres and studying his work.  I miss it and want to go back so badly one day!
Since the third book in the All Souls Trilogy won’t be released for some time, I’m getting ready to read start the final book in my other favorite - The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver.  I won’t go into detail on this one – maybe that’s another post?  But, it’s an excellent series… probably my favorite of all. It all starts with the fact that the government has decided that love is a disease, so people are “cured.”  I’ll leave it at that, or this post will continue to get longer!
Everything I’ve read on adoption is on the right of this page, so feel free to check those out.  If you open the link from this page, you’ll automatically enter a browsing session where a percent of your purchase will go toward our adoption fund (no extra cost to you)!
I’ll leave it at that… what have you been reading?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just the Same

Just the Same
By Diana Lynn Lacey

Sometimes-
God sends rain
Straight from the sky
To nourish the young flower
and it grows.

Sometimes-
God sends rain from the sky
To the mountaintops,
Then over hills and through valleys
Until it reaches the flower
and it grows, Just the same.

Sometimes-
God sends a child
Straight from His realm
Into a mother's
arms and love grows.

Sometimes-
God sends a child
From heaven to another's arms,
Then over hills and through valleys
Until he reaches the arms of his mother
and love grows, just the same.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day

Is it just me, or is Mother's Day a little obnoxious this year?  I feel like I've seen posts on Facebook, commercials, promotions and cards for months.  Maybe it's just like all the other holidays - have you realized that Christmas is now right after Halloween, according to the stores?  Forget Thanksgiving!  Or maybe I'm a little sensitive, considering this will be the third year in a row where I secretly think "maybe next year."  Either way, I found something beautiful on a friend's blog and wanted to share.  This is aimed at adoptive mothers.  I wish I could find one from a birth mother's perspective and make this post come full circle...

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,
I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.
It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.
Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.
Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.
Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?
I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.
I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.
I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.
I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.
Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.
I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.
And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.
And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.
I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.
I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.
And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.
I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.
I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.
I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.
I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.
I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.
I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?
I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.
I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.
But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.
-Kathy Lynn Harris 
Happy Mother's Day to all types of moms and moms-to-be.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Checking In

I’ve had lots of questions lately about the progress of our adoption, so I figured I better post an update for any loyal readers out there.  Needless to say, everything has been very quiet on the adoption front.  Basically we’re still waiting, but there were a few noteworthy events this week.
As I mentioned before, we found a general support and discussion group through Adoption Network Cleveland.  We’ve attended a few monthly meetings and are considering becoming members.  Unfortunately there aren’t any other couples in the same stage of adoption as we are, but there are a few regular attendees with different stories to share.  It’s been very informative (and emotional) to hear adoption experiences from over the years and from every point of view.  It’s amazing how the process has changed, even in the last twenty years.  We missed last month’s meeting, so we wanted to make sure we got there this month.  Unfortunately, we had a slight scheduling conflict.
We also had a Q&A session for waiting families with our agency last night.  Luckily, both meetings were in the same building so we were able to catch the tail end of the support group meeting.  It was a long and emotional night, knowing that there are a lot of other people going through what we are (or worse) and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it.  We're all at the mercy of an expectant mother, an agency, an attourney, a social worker, a judge or government.
At the Q&A session we heard from families who have recently adopted through our agency.  It was bittersweet.  Obviously we were happy for these families, but at the same time we know that we were presented to the same birth mothers as they were.  You can’t help but think “that could be us.”  Most of the couples acknowledged that fact, and the general tone of the meeting was “we know what you’re going through.  We were there a few months ago.  The waiting sucks, but it’s so worth it in the end.  The child that’s meant to be yours will be yours.”  These messages were somewhat encouraging, but difficult to hear at the same time.
Our fundraisers are still going on, and we truly appreciate the support we’ve received so far.  You can find all fundraising information on the Fundraisers tab at the top of this page.
Other than that, we have been pretty busy – per usual.  We attended  a few baby care classes through our local hospital, we’ve watched our nieces and nephews a couple of times (always look forward to that!), we’ve joined a small group at church and meet a few times per month, Nate’s been super busy at work, we’ve had get-togethers with friends and family, somehow both of our cars got recall notices on the same day so we had to juggle getting to and from work while those issues were fixed, we were both due for the “oh-so-fun” preventative care doctor and dentist appointments and so on…  We did travel to Michigan in April to have some family photos taken by Julie Meadows Photography.  I had these made into a framed photo collage and sent it to my mom for Mother’s day.  I’m very happy with how they turned out!