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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Follow-Up Post

I promised a post about my "deep thoughts and turmoil."  I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath...maybe not but here it is, because recording these things helps me process them and I enjoy looking back later.  I also hope that somewhere out there, there is someone who might need to know they aren't alone in what they feel about a change of plans.

First of all, like so many changes in life we've gotten used to the idea of having a baby now and are so thankful for this blessing for so many reasons.  I won't apologize for being unsure at first, it's natural to struggle with a major life change you never saw coming, even if it seems to others that it would be your dream come true!  But I'm thankful to be on the other side of that (though I will admit I may never get over the "oh my goodness we are starting ALL OVER from SQUARE ONE" thing;).

I have never liked to be a stereotype (which is, ironically, stereotypical of my generation- ha!) and so being "that" couple that got pregnant while trying to adopt was...not my first choice.  More importantly though, I didn't want those comments, the ones I've already gotten, the ones I'll tell you right now- DON'T MAKE because no one wants to hear them:
#1- "You just needed to relax."  Nothing is more insulting to a person who has struggled with infertility than hearing this.  If you think about it, it's easy to see why- basically you're saying that by wanting something so badly, she sabotaged her own efforts.  In other words- it's your fault you didn't get pregnant until now. Ouch!  Plus, this is just untrue.  If it were true, women in high-powered positions would not get pregnant, women in war-torn countries with hardly any food to eat would not get pregnant.  It has (almost) nothing to do with just relaxing.
#2- "Now you don't have to adopt, isn't this better?"  No kidding, word. for. word. I've had at least one person say this and many others imply it.  I get it, I do.  If you aren't "into" adoption, you might see it as a second choice.  But as I've said before- it was not our second choice.  It was the 2nd step in our personal process for building our family.  We felt it was a good idea, for us, to have bio kids first, but it was/is/never will be our second choice or last resort.  This comment hurts me for my friends that have adopted and have their kids home and are so in love and so certain of this plan for their lives- please, even if you don't get it, just don't say it.
I feel like I should add that I don't honestly remember who has/hasn't said these things to me.  I am not offended by them so much as I find them a bit predictable and insensitive.  I usually try to give a response that will cause the person saying it to think a bit, but I don't go home and cry or hold a grudge.  I understand that these things are said out of a lack of empathizing with the situation and/or just not knowing what else to say,

So here is what I know(the list is short).
-There is a plan for this baby.  This baby is not here just to teach mom and dad a lesson about how we are not in control.  This baby, as someone else so eloquently put it in an article I read recently, "has been part of the plan since time immeasurable."  While I'm sure that we are meant to be reminded of Who is in control, I also know baby #3 has a WHOLE life, whether short or over 100 years long, full of relationships and people he/she will impact besides just our family.  I don't know why our adoption was put on hold right now, except that I know for a fact that there needed to be room right now for this pregnancy and this baby.
-And yes, I said the adoption is on hold.  That's because Andy and I still believe 100% wholeheartedly without a doubt that we are meant to help with orphan care.  Somehow.  Perhaps we're back to the idea of refugee foster care, maybe it will be an older child later, maybe it will be helping others financially with their adoptions, most likely it will be in the form of another curve ball we could never even think of.

Unwittingly I came up with a pretty good metaphor as Andy and I tried to sort out our feelings the first night after we'd learned about our little surprise.  I said: "It's like you're going on vacation.  Which is great, and you're planning to go one place so you make plans, pick activities, and get excited.  Then you find out that you are actually going somewhere totally different.  It's still vacation and it's still great, there are great things to do in this new place too.  But you have to get used to the idea of the change.  You might be bummed to not get to experience the things you'd started getting excited about, and you also might plan to visit that place another time.  You don't stop wanting to go to that first place, and perhaps there is even a feeling of missing out, but you allow yourself to get excited about the new destination."

We were excited to have a biracial family.  We loved that idea for us and for all our children.  We were excited to adopt a child we were as certain as we could be would not have a good life or people who wanted it.  We had decided to adopt an HIV positive child and (I, more than Andy, but he was coming around) were excited to become advocates for a group of people that is hugely misunderstood.  We had a picture of our family in our minds and in it was a little blank spot with a shadow of a brown-skinned child (or more than one) who's features we had yet to make out clearly.  That picture has changed a lot but our hearts haven't.
My husband is a pretty amazing pilot, but Praise the Lord- God is even better.  We trust him to get us to the correct destination and I know that when we look back on the memories of this new destination, we won't be able to imagine life without this particular detour :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Baby #3

About 6 weeks ago we got the surprise of our lives...Baby #3 is on it's way!  I've spent much of the last six weeks trying to figure out how to describe our thoughts and feelings but I want to keep it as simple as I can for those who only want the nitty-gritty and not my story of emotional turmoil, I promise to post that later ;)

As you know if you've read my old posts; we've had our issues having babies.  Lots of ups and downs, loses, disappointments, and though each event that resulted in a lack of a pregnancy was a time of mourning, we eventually got to a point where we were quite ok with the fact that we were not going to have another newborn.  I'll say it now and keep it simple- Adoption was NEVER a second choice for us.  We may have decided to have biological kids if we could first, but it was NOT something we landed on because we "had" to.  We have always wanted adoption for our family.

So, since getting on the adoption train a few months ago we've been gung-ho, praying about our options and choices, talking a lot at home alone and with family and friends.  There was so much that went into some of these choices and babies have been FAR from our minds.  Throughout the process, even though I felt I'd be devastated if it happened, I asked God to stop us if this was not what we were supposed to be doing.  Each time I asked for a "STOP" if it was necessary, I felt we got a lot of affirmation- from verses I read, people I spoke to, doors opening, even money that was there right when we needed it.
Then, in March, I had a few things going on with my health that were a little odd.  Nothing I couldn't write off to something else- for example I'd been due for a thyroid check and had a script, so when I got super tired one week I decided to go finally have it done.  The following Sunday I brought our adoption announcements (Thank you for your help on those, Nikki!) to church, put them in boxes, then headed to the service.
The sermon that day?  God's Sense of Humor, focusing on God's Interesting Timing.  The thought had crossed my mind once or twice in the previous days to take a pregnancy test, but when you've gone through what we have, and you value your sanity, you don't rush and and buy one very easily.
While I listened to our pastor speak about Abraham and Sarah's desire for a child, their efforts to "get one" another way, and God's "last laugh" when they finally had one on their own....I KNEW.  I could hardly stand to sit in my seat.  I grabbed my friend after church and took her to the store with me, we headed down to the church basement (since the kids were still in Sunday School) and lo and behold that thing turned positive!

Immediately I sent my friend back upstairs to take all those adoption announcements out of boxes and I called Andy.  Poor guy, he was literally stepping into the plane (I could hear it powering up behind him) when I shared the news.  He said "Ok honey, I gotta go, I love you!"  Then he proceeded to get into the plane and stare at the controls blankly until his co-pilot offered some assistance ;)

Crazy story, huh?  So here we are- back to square one with a gap of four years between kids!  The twins are excited- they got to hear the heartbeat last week- so Evie keeps asking when her baby sister is coming out (she's convinced it's a girl and will not hear any arguments).  Elijah tells me from time to time "I like your baby, Mama," and asks weird questions like "Does the baby get wet when you take a shower?"  So we're adjusting to this new future we are just now getting a glimpse of and knowing there is a plan for this baby since OBVIOUSLY we were meant to get pregnant right now.  Just waiting to see what this little one is going to add to our family!  :)

(Stay tuned for more of my musings about this new revelation, if you're into that kind of stuff.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Expecting

Finally!  We get to let you in on a little "secret" we've been hiding for awhile ("secret" is in quotes because it's not common knowledge but it's not really been a secret either!)  A new little person will soon be joining our family!  Since most of you know that pregnancy and newborn babies do not appear to be in the plan for us anymore, this little one will be joining us by way of adoption from Ethiopia, and we could not be more thrilled!

This all feels like the culmination of years of thinking, praying, wishing, and learning, so while some of you may know adoption has always been on our radar, for others of you this might come as a surprise. Thankfully God loves surprises and has been preparing us for this one for quite awhile.  When Andy and I first got married the question of adoption came up- I think we arbitrarily had a conversation about it one day. I'm pretty sure I (Krista) asked Andy if he'd ever consider it, he said yes, I was faintly surprised, and we moved on.

Then, when we tried to start a family, the question came up again as we considered our options for handling our troubles having biological children.  We visited Adoption Associates, we visited The Fertility Center, and at that point in our lives adoption got put on the back burner as we decided for many reasons that trying to have bio children first was the best way for us to get started.  Fast forward 4 years and here with are, with 2 children, no desire to proceed with more fertility treatments (after several failed attempts), and still wanting to add to our family.  Back to Adoption Associates we went and from there to the Ethiopia Special Needs program.

We don't know a lot right now; we haven't specified a gender since we don't really care either way (though we've heard a boy is most likely), and we agree with AAI that an adopted child should be younger than the twins, preferably by at least 9 months.  We also know that for us, the term Special Needs will be defined as a physical problem ranging from a minor deformity, to vision or hearing difficulties, to HIV.  There are a lot of unknowns right now, but we DO know that God has a little one already planned for us and we cannot wait to find out more about him/her and for more and more light to be shed, revealing His plan.

If you know much about adoption you know that nothing is certain (not an easy thing for this planner, semi-type-A personality to accept!) and things, more likely than not, will move slowly the majority of the time. We are doing our best to prepare ourselves and our family for just about anything, but would covet your prayers of support throughout this process.  Pray specifically for Eli and Evie, that they would be able to approach this new sibling with love and excitement.  Pray for our adopted little one that he/she will stay healthy while waiting and will transition to our family life smoothly.  Please also pray for his/her biological family- we cannot know all the details of how or why our child has become orphaned but we are very aware that our joy in adding another family member comes to us because of other's loss(es).  My heart breaks to think of the loss our child will already have experienced in his/her short life by the time we are able to bring him/her home as well as the loss his/her family is experiencing in not being able to raise this little one.

Something you may not know, is that adoption, whether international or domestic is not an inexpensive undertaking.  Currently we are expecting our adoption to cost between $30,000 and $40,000.  While we anticipate being able to cover about half of the funds ourselves, we will still need to do significant fundraising along the lines of $10,000-$20,000, to allow us to bring our little one home.  We are also planning to apply for some of the wonderful grants we have been told about and would appreciate prayers on our behalf for those.  If you would like to be a part of our adoption story and support us financially we would of course, be very, very thankful.
We have been so blessed by the love and support we have already been shown from friends and family as we've gotten started in this time of expectation.  While the wait may be longer or shorter than the typical pregnancy, our "nine months" starts now!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gives Good Gifts

Matthew 7:11 says- If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Sometimes I tend to claim the verses that remind me how much work I need to do.  It probably stems from my good Reformed heritage, knowing we are totally depraved and all that, I often feel the need to remind myself of all the work I need to be doing out of LOVE (not requirement, though sometimes I think we all forget) for Jesus and what he did/does for us.  But every now and then a verse like this will come to mind and just remind me how awesome our God is and how much he LOVES to love us.

During this season of anticipation, thanks, joy, and of course gift-giving, I am reminded of all the gifts we have been given and are going to be given by our Heavenly Father.  Particularly as I think about giving gifts to my kids.  This is one of those times when being a parent can bring your heart just so close to God's.  On any given day my kids can make me cry with frustration, jump for joy, laugh at their humor, yell with anger, and shed tears of pride at their accomplishments.  No matter the day though, whether it has been mostly good or mostly bad, I always delight in giving them a good gift!  Maybe it's just time- reading together, snuggling together, watching a favorite tv show, or maybe it's a literal gift- a new toy, a book, something I've crafted to give them a fun new activity to try, etc.  The point is, rarely does it cross my mind that maybe they don't deserve it (I say rarely because I can't be 100% sure it hasn't, but not in recent memory) or that I'd rather just withhold something that will bring them joy.  Parents love to bring their kids joy and there are few things that put that sparkle in their eyes faster than a gift, big or small.

This is the first year that I've been able to see my kids get really excited about Christmas.  I love that they talk about Jesus, that is my favorite part.  I also love that every morning when Evie comes downstairs she checks her stocking, she can't help it!  I've had fun finding them gifts I know they'll love, now that their personalities and likes/dislikes are so evident, and they have even been able to tell me what they hope to get. (Evie- Hello Kitty, Elijah- A car)  I also love that Elijah stands in front of the window every time we get a flake of snow and says "Mommy, it's Christmas!  Snow means Christmas! Merry Christmas Mommy, Ho Ho Ho."  And Evie says: "It'll be Christmas when my Hello Kitty comes, right mommy?"

All of this is to say that the giving of gifts to my kids is, in itself, such a gift.  To go out and buy virtually anything they want, within reason, and watch the smiles on their faces...to have the time, ability, energy, to give them the other types of gifts- time, food, even medical care(!), those are blessings!  There are a lot of mamas and daddies out there that cannot give such gifts to their kids, they struggle even to feed their children, and they deal with the type of decision we cannot even imagine- to have to consider actually giving your child up in the hopes of them getting a better life.  My heart and mind are with those mamas today, in addition I am claiming for them and for our family, that God gives good gifts to those who ask.  Can you imagine, how much more lavishly God wishes to shower us with "gifts" when it feels so good for us who are EVIL to give gifts to OUR children?  I pray that this holiday season we will learn to give good gifts, as well as ask for and anticipate the GOOD GIFTS our Heavenly Father wishes to give us.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On all the things I SHOULD do...

I'm going to write this today, then I think I'm going to print it out and post it alllll over my house to remind myself on days that I'm not at my best.

Here goes.  I choose to embrace mediocre for once in my life.

I am tired.  Tired of all the things out there that I "should" do.  Things that if I was a good mom, wife, human, Christian, ___________(insert your own choice here), I would make time for.  I've never understood people who need to "take a break" from social media before.  I always thought they were responding to catty comments or rude "friends."  But today I am realizing that sometime the break might be from feeling badly about yourself.

On any given day here is a list of the causes and issues I feel I should research or spend time on based on my newsfeed, email, TV commercials, even the church newsletter or conversations with friends:
-Buying locally
-Buying consciously (no slave labor, no sweat shops, no unfair wages, etc.)
-Reducing consumerism in general
-Not buying on Thanksgiving or Black Friday
-Teaching your kids about giving and the excess we have in the US
-Making sure kids do not think Santa is the reason for Christmas
-Read with the kids 20 minutes per day at the minimum
-No TV before age 2, 1 show or less each day
-Vaccines, yea or nay?
-Having a vibrant prayer/devotional life
-Organic foods, GMO's, MSG, Food Dyes, Preservatives, Sugar Content, Fat Content oh my!
-Responsibly-grown and harvested foods
-Food allergies causing everything from digestive issues to insomnia to depression to behavior problems and of course, cancer.
-Antibiotics for my kids, yea or nay?
-Homeopathic remedies in general
-Recycling, finding creative ways to recycle what my local recycling center does not accept
-Homeschooling, should my kids go to mainstream school?
-Buying things vs. making them when everything has a pinterest tutorial
-Making food versus buying it, homemade is better!  Food not lawns!
-Exercise; daily, for a long time, while pregnant, sick, depressed, just DO IT! And if possible, make it hot yoga, spin, or zumba....  Also post selfies of self in gym.

Add your own list, I know there are more, and don't get me wrong, all of these things are things that can be very important.  The problem is that I cannot do it all!  These days we have more chemicals, more options, AND all of the information we could ever need to decide whether or not to subject our families to these things than ever before.  But unfortunately I don't think knowledge is power in this case, sometimes knowledge is regret, knowledge is guilt, knowledge is stress and grief and exhausting.  I want healthy food options for Andy and I and the kids but buying organic is expensive and you have to know the differences between all the symbols at the grocery store and have an app on your phone for the "dirty dozen" of produce.  You also need this scanner app that allows you to scan the barcodes of everything you buy to make sure it wasn't made by a victim of human trafficking or unfair wages.  But what about the items that aren't in the database?  I could be unknowingly supporting these things just like I have all my life, even if I spend an extra 2 hours at the grocery store scanning everything and trying desperately to get a wifi connection in a store that basically acts like a giant vacuum for radio waves or whatever it is 3G is connecting to.

It's a conundrum, it really is.  Because whether or not you choose to embrace any or none of these causes, you pretty much have to have an opinion on all of them or you won't survive your next dinner party.  (maybe an exaggeration)  Plus, maybe you spend several hours a week planning meals and a grocery list for your family to ensure healthy, sit-down, affordable meals together...but that means that you're not able to spend time at the gym right now.  One person will praise you for your efforts to feed your family healthfully, another will condemn you for not making enough time for your own health (what's YOUR excuse?)  This is why we are not supposed to try to please people, only God. We will never please everyone, nor should we try.  But how to balance when all of these things are worthy, they are all important, and all feel like things that could drastically change life for the better?

What do YOU do about it?  Well I'll be the first to say I am just not sure.  All I can do is what I can do.  Maybe it's a cop-out to say I can't lose sleep over this but I can't; I lose enough sleep from kids wandering into my room at night and worries about just the everyday life issues that arise when you have anyone in your life that you love and care about. 

So I'm deciding here and now to let myself off the hook.  I'm going to keep doing what I can- meaning I'll have days when I don't shop at Costco or Walmart, I DO workout at the gym, AND manage to purchase only organic items for our dinner.  Then I will take those items home and add them to my pantry full of stuff with ingredients I can't pronounce.  I'll also have days where I volunteer for an organization like Women At Risk, but I'll be wearing a shirt I bought at Meijer and frankly I'm not sure who made it because I grabbed 3 sizes off the shelf when I had a spare 30 seconds the kids weren't screaming and took all 3 home to try on because goodness knows I am not dragging my offspring into a dressing room since the Maurices Debacle of 2011.

I won't compromise on my kids' faith but there are nights that we forget to pray before bed and days that my kids think Santa was at the manger in Bethlehem.  In fact, I'm considering buying a little Santa to hang around the stable because in the end if they think he was just a nice guy that likes to give presents that also happened to be in attendance at the birth of our Christ I think I am 100% OK with that.  In the end the most important thing to me is that my husband and my kids know that I love them and that the only reason any of us are here to do anything is because we were put here for a purpose.  I also know that no matter how long I live, whether I get cancer, develop some other disease, keep the extra 20lbs I want to lose, or make it to the finish line 120 years old with nothing worse than a bad flu- it won't be because I added any additional days to my life than were already given to me.  Or my kids. 
Pressure is off, go enjoy your family, your home, God's people, and do for them what He has called you to do, not what others call you to do.  It really is the best we can do when we have faith that God will help us accomplish the things that he put us here to accomplish.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Conversation with Elijah

I have to share this conversation with Elijah while it is fresh in my mind.

While we got ready for bed tonight; tucking in, reading stories, singing songs, etc. I chose to sing "Cast All My Cares" for Eli since it's one of this favorites.

I began singing: "I cast, all my cares..."
Elijah: "Mom, what is cares?"
Me: "Well, it means you give God anything you are afraid of so you don't have to be afraid anymore."
Elijah: "Like if I'm scared of monsters?"
Me: "Yes, like being scared of monsters."
Elijah: "Are you afraid of things?"
Me: "Yes, everyone has things they are afraid of."
Elijah: "Like when I'm a monster, then you can give that to God and not be scared anymore."
Me: "That's right!"
Elijah: "Oh, my dad has things he's scared of.  And Ryan, and Trevor, and Evie."
Me: "Yup, they all have things, can I keep singing?"
Elijah: "Yep."
Me: "I lay, all of my burdens..."
Elijah: "Mom, what is burdens?"
Me: "Well, things that make you sad, what makes you sad?"
Elijah: "When you give me spanks I get sad."
Me: "What else."
Elijah: "When daddy gives me spanks I get really REALLY sad."
Me: "Yes, I bet it does, anything else?"
Elijah: "When Papa gives me spanks I am bad, and I get really upset, and then I am sad."
Me: "Right, and I bet you were sad when you lost your sunglasses too, right."
Elijah: "Oh yeah, losing my sunglasses makes me sad too, they were grey and maybe I can get new ones that fit me that are grey like they were."
Me: "Maybe, can I finish singing now?"

This conversation has been shortened for your reading pleasure, lots of stuttering and repeated words removed ;)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Reasons my Toddler is Crying

If you have not seen the blog of the guy that does a regular post of "reasons why my kid is crying," you should check it out.  I would link it, but don't really feel like hunting it down right now ;)

Regardless, I think it's a fantastic idea and right up my slightly sarcastic way of dealing with the stress of kids.  So here are a few reasons my toddlers were crying this week (or today, possibly just today).

1- I sang the wrong song.  While I had begun singing the correct song, I could not unsing the previous melody and this was not appreciated.

2- I refused to let my toddler poke me in the face anymore.

3- My toddler wanted to hand the item to the cashier, no matter if she had already scanned the item.

4- The nutrigrain bar had a slight bend it in.  aka  IT IS BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR AND/OR INJESTION!!!!

5- The sailboat we have at home is not the sailboat our friend had, nor is it "my size."

So, how many irrational 30lb crazies have you dealt with this week? :)