X is for The eXtraordinary #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Letter XA couple of days ago, I wrote about all the unexpected things that happen as you navigate through an adoption.  They are countless and continuous.  Among them, though, are truly extraordinary details that regularly confirm that you are on the right path.  We had many of those along the way…too many to remember, but here are some of the biggies:

  • Being asked (entreated) to join the Domestic Adoption program:  There weren’t enough potential adoptive families to present to birth parents.  How is that even possible?  We had already decided to pursue adoption through the foster system, but we had not signed any contracts, and the phone call came.  How do you say no?  You don’t.  We didn’t.  In my heart of hearts, I wanted a baby.  From the beginning, I wanted a baby.  I was, however, cowed by outside concerns…concerns that if we didn’t make limitations on some issues, we would encounter problems along the way.  We set the limits.  In reality, I set the limits, and I was never comfortable with them, so when we started over after our move, I removed them.  And here we are.  I came to the conclusion long ago that God was working on me, bending & molding me, usa domesticforcing me to trust him completely, and when I finally did, he gave me exactly what I wanted.  A baby.
  • pca crossHaving a Christian social worker involved in our case:  She wasn’t ours, but she impacted us tremendously throughout.  She serves God faithfully and without reservation, and it shows all the time.  Her boldness and sincerity encouraged us and inspired us.  Her knack for mothering those who are in need made our birth mom feel safe and loved.  We were (ARE) all better for knowing her.
  • A volunteer doctor at Crisis Pregnancy:  I don’t know if this doctor is a Christian or not, but I do know that he is compassionate, and he believes in life.  When he saw our birth mom at Crisis Pregnancy, he offered to treat her himself at his private practice, and he followed through on that.  He is a good doctor, cautious and thorough, and he provided excellent care.  He treated our birth mom kindly and with respect, as he did all of us.  Org-AZ-Phoenix-Crisis-Pregnancy-CentersHe never withheld information, or acted as though anyone of us was an imposition on his time.  He is the type of doctor every pregnant woman should have, but especially those who are tempted to choose another alternative.  We were blessed to be under his care.
  • hippocrates symbolStellar hospital care for both our birth mom and our baby:  Without a doubt, our birth mom and our baby received top of the line care in the hospital.  The NICU, where our son spent four days while his blood sugar stabilized, was as good as they get.  The nurses were (are) phonomenal.  Further, they treated everyone involved with great respect. With two exceptions (attitude problems), our birth mom experienced the same stellar care.  The nursing staff in the maternity ward could not have provided better care, and they were kind and respectful to all of us.  The nurse manager personally cared for our birth mom one day, and I believe her lovely outlook sets the tone on the ward, and all of us benefited from her positive influence.
  • adoption symbolRooming in with our birth mom:  When you adopt, the maternity ward tries to provide a room (if one is available) to adoptive families, so they can stay in the hospital with their baby.  Such was not the case for us…the maternity ward was full.  Our birth mom, though, asked that I stay with her.  I was reluctant, because I didn’t want to be a constant (sad) reminder of what she was giving up, but she insisted that she wanted me to stay, so I did.  I will never regret doing that.  It enabled me to be there with our son much more than if I had been in a hotel, and it gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with our birth mom before we all (finally) went home.  Things were easy and comfortable, as they had always been.  I made sure to give her space, and I spent a lot of time with our son.  My husband was able to come every day to see us, and I was there when our birth mom discharged, and was able to say goodbye to her.  Those are memories I would not have had I not spent those days with her, and I cherish them.
  • The angel working in our county adoption division:  This paralegal secured an expedited hearing so we could finalize before our home study expired.  She pushed through paperwork at CPS when no one else – our agency included – would not make an effort, and she saved us a continuance (and probably some money as well).  She was kind, and she went the extra mile Jeremiah-29-11to make sure our hearing took place quickly and without problems.   At a time when I have lost faith in virtually anything to do with government, she proved that there are still good people working there, people who genuinely seek to help the public.

There were many other moments like this, but these are the ones I remember the most.  Even if they were the only ones, they would be enough.  God is extraordinary.  He loves in extraordinary measure, and he moves in profound and extraordinary ways to show us.

I is for Inner Circle #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Letter IFrom the beginning of our adoption journey, we had a small group of friends with whom we shared the details of what was going on.  These were close friends, people we knew we could trust completely, who would rejoice with us and grieve with us through the ups and downs, and who would faithfully pray for us throughout.  Several of these dear friends honored us by providing references.  What an act of love that was to us, and as much as I love language, I can’t find adequate words to express how grateful we are to them.

We needed this group.  I needed this group, especially.  I needed some pals who knew, intimately, what I was going through.  I needed friends to confide in when I needed to talk…share…vent, and I did all of those things.

venting sessions

What I (we) also needed was a group of friends who, while they knew all the details of our experience, shared many other things in common with us, so that we could go out together, have play dates with our kids, laugh, cry, and talk…all without ever discussing our adoption.  We talked about it when we needed to, and the rest of the time we lived life with these friends.

This was not a large group of friends.  Sure, most everyone who has known us during the past 10 years knows we were somewhere in the process of adoption, but most did not know the details.  We didn’t talk about it a lot, not even between the two of us.  Our biological son knew that we wanted to adopt a child, and he prayed diligently for a sibling, but he didn’t know about the sadness we felt over not being matched the first time around; he didn’t know about the matches that fell through; and he didn’t really know about his baby brother until it was a foregone conclusion.  We wanted to protect him from the ups and downs of the journey, and we proverbs 4 23felt we needed to protect him from the disappointment of the disruptions.  He didn’t need to have that heaviness on his heart at age eight, not when he needed to focus his attention on school, and friends, and play.  We also didn’t want him to start feeling as though God was disappointing him by not answering his prayers.  We knew that wasn’t the case, but it’s sometimes hard to convince myself, and I’m a lot older than eight.

Frankly, we wanted to protect ourselves, too.  We didn’t want every conversation to start with answering adoption questions and giving adoption updates.  There were so many months when nothing happened, so there was nothing to tell anyway, so we intentionally stayed quiet about it.  Especially with the matches that fell through, because worse than dealing with it between the two of us (and sending an update to our inner circle), was to have to address it over and over and over with everyone we knew.  So we didn’t share much of what happened with many.

Now that it’s all over…and with a happy outcome…I want to share our story.  First and foremost, I want to have it written down for us, and especially for our adopted son to one day read.  However, I also want to share it publicly, so that those who know us and are curious about our story can read it, and those who are considering adoption can get a glimpse of what it is like.

silly girlfriendsWe still have the inner circle, and we (I especially) still need it from time to time.  Things come up, and they are not only cherished friends in whom we can confide, they are riotously fun friends that laugh and enjoy our quirky silliness, and they are praying friends who lift us up to the Lord regularly.  There are no better friends than that, and I am grateful for them.

F is for Finalization #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Letter FWe finalized our adoption on March 6, 2014, exactly seven days before our home study expired.  Three matches, two disruption, and one baby boy in eighteen months (less one week)…it seemed to fly by some days, and other days it seemed like an eternity.

We brought him home on September 28, 2013.  He was four days old, and we were out of practice with all things baby.  Never mind that…it really is like riding a bike…you don’t forget how to pedal, but you do forget how tired it makes you when  you’re pedaling 24/7.

Our post-placement visit happened on October 24, 2012, on his one month birthday…also the day we requested the finalization application from our local juvenile court office.  We got it, filled it out, sent it in (along with our identification documentation), and waited.  The paralegal assigned to our case called fairly shortly thereafter to schedule an appointment to sign the documents and present (yet again) our certified identification information.

name againSeriously, making sure we are who we say we are is a multi-faceted endeavor.

Once everything was signed, the juvenile court office could start requesting the documents from our agency.  Since our entire file had been previously presented to CPS, it puzzles me why it could not be then passed to juvenile court, but I don’t work in government (Thank God!), and I clearly don’t understand the convoluted, complicated way that government works.  But I digress…  The day we signed our application was also the day that our paralegal submitted a motion to expedite our paperwork, since our home study expiration date was looming…in four(ish) months…which in government time, is basically tomorrow.

We also got the sheaf of paperwork from our agency to fill out (again).  Here again I wonder why, as they had all the information already, and CPS had received it once already, and the process could have been expedited by eliminating this repetition.  But I digress…

In the midst of this, we went out of town, forgot to take the paperwork with us, so came home to 1) a notice that our court date was set for March 6, 2014, and 2) our paperwork needed to be filled out and returned to our agency YESTERDAY.  It was also at this point (less than three weeks prior to our court date) that the agency told us that CPS must approve us again.  I thought that was behind us, but no.  So I scrambled, got the paperwork completed that day, and it was hand delivered by a sweet, sweet friend that evening.

When I called our agency the next day, I spoke with the president/director.  If there is anything you might not want to leave a lasting impression with clients, it is a snippy attitude from the big boss, but that is exactly what happened.  She confirmed receipt of the paperwork, but stated that it was unlikely that we would make our court date, that we would probably have a continuance, because it was not probable that CPS would rubber stamp our paperwork in time for our hearing.  This ticked me off.

Just a note…good customer service needs to start at the top.
Giving clients – in particular, paying adoptive parent clients – attitude,
right at the end of your otherwise good relationship with them, does not
bode well for a recommendation from us to other potential adoptive parents.  

world-kindnessI asked her if there was a contact person at CPS that she, or we, could call to try and rush the paperwork through so we would not end up with a continuance, which would force us to renew our home study (and potentially cost us a lot of additional money).  No, she did not have a contact person.  What about a phone number?  No, CPS doesn’t have a phone.  Yes, those words were actually uttered to me.  I know she meant that they did not have access by phone to CPS, but seriously…some basic kindness would have been nice.

angelHere is where the angel of a paralegal (whom I previous mentioned) came into play.  She did have a contact number.  She could call and try to push the file to the top of the pile and get our rubber stamp.  She could and she did. Within a couple of days.

Our hearing went without a hitch.  Our parents were able to attend, along with our birth mom’s social worker, with whom we had become friends by this time.  It was quick, and fun, and our (now two) sons got to sit in the judge’s chair for pictures.  We are finished, and this month we will get a new birth certificate with his new name and my husband and me listed as his parents.

There are many, many, many things our agency did right.  This last detail, the one that would make our final memory of them a positive one, was not one of those things they did right.  I hope this is not the case for any other adoptive family.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because the outcome was perfect, but it is part of our story.

gotcha day

 

She wasn’t being rude

Really, just pay it forward.

dogtorbill

My receptionist Ericka was in tears. The caller had said some pretty mean things, and she’s sensitive to what people say to her. She thrust the phone towards me, and pleaded for me to deal with it, “She doesn’t understand we don’t have any appointments available and, anyway, we’ll be closed in 45 minutes.” Some lady’s dog hadn’t “eated” in 4 days, and so she thinks she’s really pretty sick, and what was I gonna do about it? On such a hectic afternoon, I was glad to take the load off the front desk, and proceeded with the best defense being a good offense. “So he hasn’t eaten in 4 days? Wow, you rushed right in! What makes you think it’s serious now” The colloquialism of her words and accents made it difficult to understand, even for a small town Missoura hick like myself, but I did make out something…

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Dear A&E, congratulations, you just committed suicide

There’s nothing I can add. This is the perfect response.

The Matt Walsh Blog

phil

Dear A&E,

I read that you are indefinitely suspending Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty after he quoted the Bible and said that the homosexual act is sinful. I get it, guys. I do. You punished the Christian guy for being a Christian because you got some angry emails from a bunch of whiny gay activists who lack the spine and maturity to deal with the fact that there are still people out there who have the guts to articulate opinions that they find disagreeable. In so doing, you’ve kowtowed to a pushy minority of vocal bullies who don’t even watch your channel, while alienating the fan base of the one show that keeps your entire network afloat.

Makes sense.

You’ve got standards, after all. You wouldn’t want to be associated with tasteless and inappropriate things. The people on Duck Dynasty can’t be allowed to run around being all Christian-like. It…

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Perhaps a Perspective Shift Today…

phil pirate

My silly, lovely, wonderful husband!

I’ve been reading Natasha Metzler’s blog for a few years now.  She inspires me with her graceful willingness to be transparent in pain, all the while giving God glory for the beautiful, blessed life that he created for her.  I am humbled by her faith, and by her conscious decision to take every situation in her life and find God’s blessing(s) in it.  What a beautiful testimony to the power of God’s love and grace, and how it can so magnificently transform us through our pain and disappointment.

This month she is writing a daily post on what she loves about her husband.  One new thing each day.  I love this, because each one has caused me to stop and reflect for a moment on my own husband.  Today she wrote about how her husband blesses her with his gift of conversation.  I love that something so common, so taken for granted, so quotidian (to quote my friend Bri), is described in such a way.  I love it because my husband blesses me in this way, too.

How many times does he allow me to talk his ear off when we go to bed…too late to talk…but knowing that I need to decompress?  The answer is too many to count  And so many times has he offered a perspective to me that I have not yet considered.  So many times he has offered a Biblical framework in which to see my concerns anew.  So many times he has thoughtfully expressed his understanding of a Biblical principle that opens up a new level of understanding for me.  So many times…in the middle of the night…when I am downloading all my worries and rants to him.

I am so very thankful for him, and for how he helps me reshape my thoughts and worries.  I am thankful for his depth, and for his willingness to be tired the next morning because so many of these deep conversations happen in the middle of the night.  I am thankful that he listens (even when he’s tired), and that he hears…that he seeks to know my heart intimately, and that he prays for and with me.   I am so very, very thankful that God saw what I needed and provided in such extraordinary measure.