Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When Love Takes Over

Well, it's happening. This very special man that I've been dating since last February has asked me to be his wife! This post is a little late, because he officially asked me on December 30th. It's been a crazy few weeks since then, which explains the delay in my blog.

I want to take a minute to explain why I'm putting this particular blog post on my adoption blog, because I know it has nothing to do with my daughter. What makes it important is that I hope with all of my heart that my daughter will be patient and hold her standards high as she waits for her perfect match. It has been such a long time that I've prayed for my husband and that God would prepare me and my heart for him in return. SO LONG. But I trusted God and I knew that He would work out all of the details for me.

When I think about trying to explain what it feels like to finally be with the person you are meant for, I suddenly realize that there aren't words deep enough to even attempt it. I have loved every minute of dating Casey; learning about his life, how he found faith, meeting his family, spoiling his little nieces, laughing at *almost* every joke he tells, smiling after every kiss he gives me, growing in our faith together, figuring out what makes him happy, figuring out what makes him not so happy, learning to trust him and most importantly falling so deep in love with him. The last several months have been filled with a lot of growth for both of us and to understand just how lucky I am to have him all to myself is humbling.

I truly can't wait to spend the rest of our lives together. And this is something that, three years ago, I didn't know would happen for me. When I think back to how I felt about myself in that time of my life, I understand why God was holding out on me. I wasn't ready, and quite frankly, neither was Casey. Knowing everything that had to happen in both of our lives from then to now in order to make us meeting and falling in love happen...I can only give praise to God.

So, like I said...it's been a crazy few weeks since he got down on one knee! We started planning right away. After all, the wedding is in 8 months. AH! We also bought our first home together and that has been, and I'm certain will continue to be, quite a task. Who knew adulting was so exciting, but also so stressful?

All of this to say to my sweet child... 

Be patient with God. 
Never give up on things your heart desires. 
Hold firm to your standards and know what you're worth. 
Remain steadfast in your faith. 
Pray always. 
And know that you are loved more than you will ever know.

xoxo

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Adoption: Does it get easier over time?

It's been over two years since my little girl was born and I placed her for adoption. I am not shy about talking about her or sharing my story with people because I believe it is important to change how people think about adoption. I enjoy helping people feel comfortable with starting the conversation and not feeling like it's some taboo subject. Most people will offer me a chance to not talk about it, though. They'll say something like, "We don't have to talk about it if you don't want." And honestly, I have taken that out a couple of times...mainly because there are moments where I am certain I will cry if I keep talking about it and I'm not in a place where I feel comfortable with getting that vulnerable. However, for the majority of the time, I will push that gesture to the side and open the conversation up.

One of the most common questions I get is, "Does it get easier over time?" My answer has varied over the last two years because I wasn't sure...the grieving process is so complicated and the way I was handling everything has been different than other birth mom's I've connected with. Every adoption story is unique, so I always remind myself that it's not strange for me to be in a different spot than others. I also have a wonderful mother who has told me over and over that whatever I am feeling is normal. All of this to say that if I'm being completely honest with myself, I would say that it does not get easier. It still hurts when I think about everything I'm missing out on. I still break down and cry, weep, sob because my heart aches when I remember having to watch her new parents driving away with her for the first time. So no, it doesn't get easier over time. But I have gotten stronger and I've learned ways to cope with the pain. So while some people see me as someone who's done with the grieving process, I know that I've just gotten good at putting on a brave face.

To be honest, having to listen to people talk about adoption or issues like being pro-life or pro-choice, who have never actually experienced it or had to make a decision like this, bring out more emotion from me than those who just ask me about my daughter.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and it's exciting to be able to speak more about my story during a time when it is getting attention. Like I said in the beginning of my post, it's important for anyone who has played a part in adoption to share their stories. And it's important for people who don't know anything about it to listen. Together we can change the stigma that is attached to adoption.

xoxo

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

National Adoption Awareness Month

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't really know much about adoption before I found out that I was pregnant. I thought it was something a 16 year old did when they accidentally got pregnant and their mom and dad's forced them to give the baby up. Adoption was this secretive thing that was basically a taboo subject, especially if you were the birth parent. But people who actually did the adopting were to be praised. (And I still believe this wholeheartedly. I adore my daughters adoptive parents and I always will.) But I wanted to help educate everyone on this amazing thing called adoption. It's not taboo. It never should have been and we can be the ones who remove the stigma. 

National Adoption Awareness Month has quite the history...in fact, it originally started as just a week-long event back in 1984. President Reagan started it to help bring to light the need for adoptive families for all of the children in foster care. Then in 1995, President Clinton upped the ante and made it an entire month!  In fact, Clinton asked The Department of Health and Human Services to use this *new thing* called the internet to create a tool that would make it easier for families to find children to adopt in 1998. Despite what you may think about President Clinton, you gotta admit that was pretty cool of him. 

For me, my education on adoption really began after I told my parents about Charlie. You can read my older posts for more on that difficult conversation, but needless to say, we were all in agreement that adoption was definitely the best choice for this little baby. It wasn't a matter of whether or not I would be a good mother or not, in fact I feel like I am an awesome mother for making the decision that I did. But we wanted Charlie to have parents who loved each other, a home that was safe and we wanted her to have every opportunity and advantage for success. She deserves everything and I wanted to give her that. 

I find it ironic now, after reading about Clinton's request for the internet search tool, but I literally started at Google. I just typed in adoption agencies and Bethany Christian Services popped up. I followed the link to their website and found out there was a branch in Des Moines. I gave them a call and was meeting with an advocate a week later. It all happened so quickly and they were so helpful with everything. But it's still crazy to think that I started looking for parents for my baby on the internet. Sure, you can buy a car from some rando on Craigslist, but parents for a real life baby?! Yep, did it on the internet. And to be honest, I think it's amazing that the resources are SO EASY to find because how else are scared mothers who don't know what to do, going to find help otherwise? 

Now, I will say that I'm dumbing down the journey that was actually required to find parents for Charlie...it's not like a dating website where you read a profile and swipe right. But it did start online, and then I got their book, and then I got to meet them. And I loved them. I never had doubts and I still don't. Would you believe that they STILL send me photos of my sweet girl every week, even 2 1/2 years later? That's serious love. 

But I want to go back to my second sentence in this blog. The biggest thing I've learned about adoption is that it's not just for scared 16 year olds. Sure, they are certainly a part of this adoption equation, but take me for example. I was 25, worked a full time job, lived on my own and for all intents and purposes, had a pretty successful life ahead of me. But I'm not the only exception; think of all the birth dads out there. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to make this type of decision for a person you aren't carrying, to have to figure out a way to work with the birth mom to find the best plan for your child. 

But aside from this, I think, or at least I hope, that by myself and all of the other strong birth parents out in the world who are sharing their story, the world will be forced to change their mentality on adoption. It it my prayer that all parties involved in the adoption (birth parents, adoptive parents, families and especially the child) would be treated with respect and love. This shouldn't be a secret or taboo subject to talk about. Adoption is beautiful. It's has saved countless lives. I would be lost without this option. 

I'll be posting a bit more this month because I know I haven't shared a lot lately and I want to help celebrate adoption and truly bring awareness. 

xoxo


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Happy Birthday to My Favorite 2 Year Old!

Well here we are...two years into your beautiful and blessed life. Two years since I first saw your sweet face. Two years since I made the hardest decision of my life. And two years more in love with you.

I came home to Iowa to be able to see you during your birthday and I am so glad I did! Though we only shared a few hours together, it was so much fun to see you smiling, learning, laughing, eating, singing and even when you got kind of grumpy was fun to watch. You do this thing where you push your hands together and say, "Nooooooo!!" when you're upset with something. I thought it was pretty cute, and what was even better was how quickly you were back to being your happy, carefree self. My parents have always said I was a very resilient child, and I'm hoping that maybe that characteristic was passed on to you, too!

We brought over Chick-fil-a and cupcakes to your house to celebrate and you loved it! You ate almost all of your kids meal and then you went for that cupcake with your fingers first. You especially enjoyed the frosting and sprinkles!


Next we got to open presents with you! You knew exactly what we were talking about when we said that and it was adorable to see you push your chair away from the table and ask to get down in order to get to the present time. First you opened my present to you, which was a couple of outfits that all kind of intermix together. I got you hot pink because why not!? Plus you look adorable in that color. And someday you may not want to wear pink anymore...so for now, it's pink. :)


Then you opened a little gift my mom had picked out for you and you LOVED it! It was a set of puppets and the moment you opened it, you said, "Yay!" You were able to name a couple of them, too! You knew which was a policeman and which was a doctor. It was at this point that I realized you are a genius. But it was so sweet because you just kept on saying, "Yay, people!" You really seem to love people. Then we played with the puppets and practiced saying, "Hello," to each other.


The rest of our visit was spent playing and you pulling out every single toy that you own to show us. It was great! You are so active and love to play non stop. However, by the time we were leaving, you were pretty tired...I'm positive you went down for a nap the moment we left.

It was honestly a great way to spend a Friday morning/afternoon. I loved every moment of being around you and though you're not much for being held and cuddled these days, the sweet kisses (or sugars as your mommy calls them) you gave me melted my heart.

I am so proud of you and who you are growing up to be. I am so thankful for your mommy and daddy....they are doing such a good job of being your parents! And I can't wait to see what the next year has in store for you!

I love you to the moon and back, sweet child.




xoxo

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mothers Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the momma's out there! Most of you know that I have a very deep love for my mom and I try to let her know every day just how wonderful, beautiful and loved she is. But I do think it's exciting to really give her that *extra* love on this one special day! So to you, my beautiful mom, Happy Mother's Day. I am so blessed that God chose you to be my momma and my best friend.

Nearly two years ago, I also became a momma. And I would still call myself a mom and I have a deep, incomparable love for my daughter. Our mother-daughter relationship is different, though. When I became a momma, I also helped another woman become a momma. I remember choosing her so carefully and I have never questioned my decision. She is amazing and has a very special place in my heart. We both love this little girl so much. My love showed itself early on when I chose to place her for adoption in order to give her the life she deserved and now her new mommy will show her love by raising her, teaching her, caring for her, providing for her and all of the other amazing things that moms do for their children. For that, I am forever thankful to her. What a blessing it is to know that the person I love the most in this world will be cared for.

As much as I am so thankful and blessed to have such special mothers in my life, I still feel a twinge of pain when this day comes. There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish I could be holding Charlie. I wish so deeply that our lives didn't have to be separated...I wish that I never had to even look into adoption and that she could have been born into a solid marriage between myself and whomever it is that I will spend forever with. It's sad, but I know that the way our story has played out thus far is exactly what God had planned. God was with us the whole way and I know he's brought Charlie and her new mommy and daddy into my life for a reason. We were supposed to be family and it's so special that one little girl could bring us all together.

There are some birthmoms who celebrate their motherhood today, the Saturday before Mother's Day. It's a special day to remember those women who never took their babies home, but instead chose to place them with another family. This day is unique because a lot of people don't really know what to say to birth moms, so they just don't say anything. Perhaps out of fear that they'd be bringing up something so emotional and painful for the mom...and that caution is appreciated, but for me, I would rather talk about it than keep it some dirty little secret. My daughter is worth talking about. And if we can start the conversation, maybe more people will know about having adoption as an option in an unplanned pregnancy situation.

So today, this wonderful day that celebrates mothers, lets celebrate ALL of the momma's. We are all amazing and we all show our children love in different ways, but there's always love there. And that is worth celebrating.

From before I could see your sweet face...
 To the first moments I could hold you....
 To our magical time together now, I will always love you.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you!! 

xoxo

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...Anything can happen, child. Anything can be."
-Shel Silverstein
 
This quote has been ringing through my head for the last 24 hours after having a lovely conversation with my parents last night. Since I've moved to Ohio, I find myself loving the nights when I call my mom and my dad is right next to her. She'll put me on speaker and it's *almost* like I'm right there in the living room with them, just sharing time and laughing together. We'll talk about our days and they are always sure to tell me how proud they are of me. I don't think they know how much that means to me; to have the people you look up to most telling you that they're proud of you...that's something so special. 
 
Last night we had more to talk about because I became "facebook official" with the man I've been seeing for the last couple of months. This is a big deal in our house because we grew up knowing and always remembering to protect our hearts. Having something so personal, like a romantic relationship, put out on a public forum is something to do only when you feel completely comfortable with it. With this in mind, I haven't been public with a relationship status in years. Sure, I've dated people and even had some meaningful relationships, but never were they posted for all to see. My boyfriend is somewhat of a private person, so imagine my surprise when HE took the leap of making US public. 
 
So as I'm discussing this with my parents, I also start to just reflect on why this particular guy is special. Why I feel like I'm OK with us being listed as a pairing on social media. And I happened across the thought that he's the first guy I've seriously dated who shares the same faith as I do. Having this key portion of our lives to discuss, challenge one another and enjoy together has made this relationship different somehow. And I found myself saying that I shouldn't have dated any of those other guys, knowing what I know now. Like why would I waste my time, knowing how important this part of my life is, dating someone who just doesn't believe in God? It doesn't make them bad people, it just doesn't make them the right one for me. 
 
Luckily, my dad was quick to say that there are three words that we, as humans, shouldn't dwell on: woulda, coulda, shoulda. He told me that spending too much time in the past can cloud the present and/or future. So allowing ourselves to live too much in that 'woulda coulda shoulda' world isn't worth our time, but living in the joy that today has to bring is definitely worth our time. And that is exactly what I'm trying to do. I want to fully enjoy my time in this relationship and embrace all the joy that this man has brought to my life. 
 
So to bring it back to the above quote by the wonderful Shel Silverstein, I love how he brings this child full circle from listening to all the negative things the world has to offer, but then quickly reminds the child that despite all of that, anything can happen. Although Shel wrote this a long time ago, the concept is true to life in general. As humans, we are flooded with all these things that are negative, things we shouldn't do, etc...but through all of that, there are lessons to be learned. The time we spend today moving through the course of life, will only help us to fully remember all the amazing things that our future have to bring. Anything can happen, anything can be. 
 
**I realize this has little to do with my adoption or being a birthmom, but this is a lesson that has taken me a long 27 years to learn. And if I can try to impart anything to my daughter as she grows up and navigates through life, I want to. I want her know how special she is and how she should always focus on the beauty and amazing things that surround her.
 
But since most of you come here to see more about Charlie and what she's up to, here's a little photo of my girl in her natural habitat; at the dinner table, with food smeared all around her mouth. (Hand-eye coordination is still a work in progress)
 
 
And here's baby girl working on her dental hygiene....
 
 
She's really growing up! I can't wait to see her in May and then again for her birthday in June! She'll be two! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!
 
xoxo 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why I Chose Them To Raise Charlie

A lot of people ask me about how I chose the two wonderful people that I did to raise my little girl. I'll be honest, it wasn't an easy process, but it was definitely one of the best decisions I've made in my life. They are incredible humans and I have never second guessed my choice in who they are to me and to my daughter, our daughter.

When I met with Bethany Christian Services, they asked me what I was looking for in a family for my baby. All I knew was that I wanted them to be Christian, be willing to have an open adoption and have some interest in music. These were my only deal breakers and everything else I was open to all possibilities.

At the agency, they have a huge cabinet full of books which have been made by all of the families who are looking for a child to adopt. It's a little crazy that little ol' me had all of these options just staring me in the face. It was overwhelming. But luckily my advocate knew me and knew some of these families and was able to narrow it down to about 8 families that she thought I'd like. She sent me home with the books so I could review them and look them over.

After a few days of avoiding the books, for reasons I still can't fully understand, I sat down on my bed and prayed. I prayed over all of the books, I prayed for myself and I prayed for my baby. I grabbed each book and read them through and surprisingly found myself discovering things that I either loved or didn't love about each family. I realized that I imagined this child being the first one for a family, so those who already had kids were put into a 'No' pile. This left with with about half of the books left.

I started reading about the remaining families and the moment I started reading one of them, I started to fall in love with them. This book showed a couple, late 30's-early 40's, who had found each other late in life. Their love story was so beautiful and was centered around their mutual love for Christ. They also had a part in there that each had written about why they fell in love with the other person; which was not only adorable but also showed a side of both of their personalities that I loved.

The next part that made me love them was the page that explained that they had tried to carry a child on their own, but were unable to carry either of the babies to term. My heart broke as they told about losing two little babies. I still get emotional just thinking about the loss they had to have felt. I can't imagine. But what made me love them even more was when they said that they still felt called by God to be parents, so that is why they were exploring adoption.

The rest of their book showed photos of their wedding, their cute dogs and moments of adventure that they had shared together. It was so exciting to see little snippets into their lives and what my daughter could expect to experience and look forward to as she grows up. It also made my heart happy that the mother was a singer and the grandpa was a piano player...made me confident that Charlie would grow up surrounded by music.

The last page of their book is what made my decision to want to meet them final. They had a list of what they value most and at the top of the list was God and having a personal relationship with Him. The next thing was their family. As I read the list, I realized that these were all things that I grew up with as well and things that I found vital to being the person I was today. It just made me feel confident that my daughter would be brought up the same way I was.

After that, I scrambled the books up and had my mom look through them all and she had the same family picked out. So we decided to meet them. In February, we got to meet for the first time at the adoption agency. Full disclosure, it was awkward at first...here I am with this baby inside of me and here are these people who want to take it. But after moving past the awkwardness, it quickly became very intimate and I felt connected to them instantly. They remind me so much of my own parents and they were so vulnerable about everything....I know we all cried multiple times that day.

I honestly don't remember all of the details of that day, what was said or anything like that...I just remember driving away feeling completely at peace. I loved them. I knew they loved me and my baby. I felt no desire to meet anyone else and I was excited to see them again throughout the pregnancy to build our relationship before the baby arrived. I kind of viewed that as my own version of nesting; getting to know her future parents and getting comfortable with them.

To this day, I still adore them. I couldn't have asked for a better two people to raise the most important person to me. They have stuck to every promise they have made and they have included me so much in her life. I cherish the moments I get to see my daughter, but I also love seeing them and watching how they all interact. It's what helps my heart feel happy when I miss her because I know she's surrounded with love and is so well taken care of.

xoxo