Sunday, September 20, 2015

An Aha Moment

This weekend, I attended a women's conference at my church and was so encouraged to hear women share their stories of overcoming trials and adversity. There was such beauty in the truth of their stories as they shared how this was not the life they planned. Though challenges came and wrecked their lives, they found ways to turn their situations that were so dark and terrible into something good. Even though they hated what they were enduring, they were able to find ways that their pain and hurting could impact others for good.

Many times I find myself questioning God and asking, "Why us?". Why was Jeffrey born with this horrific disease when there was only a 25% chance of him having it? Why did you call us to this adoption if it was going to be so painful and disappointing? Why aren't you moving in our situation? And if I was completely honest, I have also found myself asking, "Why them?" Why are they getting blessings we are praying for? Why would you do that for them and not for me? I know that is terrible, but it is the truth of my ugly and sinful heart at times. 

Thankfully, I have a husband that so wonderfully demonstrates God's goodness and faithfulness. Despite everything he has faced and faces, he remains joyful and hopeful at all times. Can I just say this can be incredibly annoying at times! Sometimes you just want to have a pity party and wallow in your sorrow. Jeffrey will not attend my pity parties and reminds me of all that have to be thankful for in our lives. THANK YOU, LORD FOR MY HUSBAND! I would not be the woman I am today without him. Jeffrey many times will remind me that maybe God called us to adopt not just to change the life of our child, but to do a major work in us. Probably more me than Jeffrey, but he includes himself because he is humble.

This weekend, I had one of those aha moments. You know when you don't understand something and then suddenly it clicks! I'll admit, I still don't understand a lot of this process fully, but I do think that it has opened opportunities for me to love on and speak to women that maybe I wouldn't know how to if this would have just been a quick, painless process. I have always had a heart for the poor and needy. Many of you know I have spent years in the inner-city, I have gone to several third world countries, and I am so comfortable speaking to those who have less. Speaking to childless women well that has never been something I knew how to do. Although I have never been extremely poor,  I have easily sympathized with people, cried with them, and did my best to help. There are some situations and areas of hurt that need more than sympathy. They require empathy. This weekend I cried with two different women as I shared the pain of longing for a child. The pain when you cry yourself to sleep, the pain of guarding your heart from jealously and bitterness, the pain of feeling like maybe you aren't enough- I have felt these pains. Though I know many women choose to not have children, one of the beautiful opportunities of being a woman is the privilege to be mother, and it can be devastating and unbearable when your heart longs for this, but your situation seems impossible. This weekend, I saw how my empathy was just what they needed. I didn't try to fix something or tell them that their hurt would go away; I just let them feel my empathy.

I started off this post by sharing how the women spoke about how life doesn't always go how you planned it. I would currently have a couple kids, we would be living in a beautiful house, I would be a little skinnier, my hair wouldn't need coloring so often, and my bank account would be a little bigger, but life happens. Because life has happened, I have learned to see the humorous in the darkest moments; I have learned to keep on living while I am waiting for more of my life to begin, and I have so thankfully been able to connect with and encourage others who feel like they are sinking in a similar ocean.

The intent of this post is not to share how awesome and inspirational I am. Let's face it- I am a mess! The intent is to encourage you to look a little bit beyond your current struggles and see how God can use you where you are. Don't wait to be where you want to be. I would love for God to sweep me up, give me a miracle, and let my baby be in my arms tomorrow, but until He does, I am going to keep going. I trust He is standing with me and has a reason for me to still be here. When I signed up for this adoption, I thought I was going to have to endure a little bit of heartache for a couple months. Three and a half years later, I have come to see that there is something bigger than me and my baby. There is purpose in this wait, and I am just beginning to learn a little part of it.

Romans 12:11-13 MSG Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

We are Moving!

We are so excited to move and see all that God has for us next, but I can't help but think of all the memories this house holds. If these walls could talk, they would have so much to say. Some of their words would probably surprise you, some would make you cry, some would make you laugh hysterically, and some would make you think deeply. Life has happened here. I thank God for providing us with this place that we have called home for the past 7 years and for teaching us so much about ourselves and each other while we have been here. I'm so thankful for all of the friends and family that have entered and shared memories with us. 

 When we started the adoption process, we never would have guessed that it would have taken this long. We worried that moving could impact our adoption, so we tried to wait. As we prayed and sought God about next steps, we felt confident in selling the house. We trusted that in God's time the house would sell, and the adoption would not be put on hold. Right now, we are on the house hunt for a place in Missouri. Please pray that we find a place and that the transfer of all our documents will go smoothly. We will have to redo all our paperwork for the state of Missouri, and we will be working with a new social worker. Though this will be a lot of work and more money, this process has taught me not to fear and think of the worst case scenarios, but to continue to live.  Although I am waiting for something, I can't stop living. For us and our future family, we feel we are making the right step. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Update in Ethiopia

Elections have definitely slowed things down on the adoption front. Many families are waiting for documents, waiting for approvals, and waiting for the court dates. Not a lot of movement has happened in the last month.

MOWCYA (The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs) which is a big part of the adoption process in the Ethiopian government was shut down for almost two weeks due to no power, and now they have slowed down significantly due to new staff from the outcomes of the recent elections.

Please pray for diligence in the new team that they are building and that MOWCYA will be staffed with adoptive friendly people who will process papers efficiently.

Please pray for Embassy clearances for families waiting to go home (It seems that as more families go home then they will start matching more children again)

Please pray for both the US government and the Ethiopian government officials to see the importance of their jobs and become more efficient in processing times.

Please pray that more adoptions are able to be processed before the rainy season comes! It is coming soon! (The government shuts down once it starts to rain)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Beauty from Pain

Yes, I agree adoption is such a beautiful experience. Afterall, isn't our adoption into God's family the most self-less, beautiful, and incredible display of love that has ever existed. I have had so many people tell me how wonderful our story is, and as beautiful and wonderful it is and is going to be, we must not forget that all adoption comes from a place of loss.

Although adoption has been our first plan for starting a family since the beginning, I have to realize that our adoption is not everyone's first choice.

Adopting family- Many people start the adoption process due to the great grief and pain that comes from infertility. I have read countless numbers of adoption blogs where couples experienced many miscarriages and horrible tragedies of trying to start a biological family. Now, I want to word this carefully because I don't want adoption to sound like 2nd place, but for many people adoption stems from the loss of dreams and plans that a couple originally had. Thankfully, God can turn pain and hurting into something beautiful and better than we ever imagined, but many times couples are facing loss when they start to consider adoption. 

Birth mother- I have talked about the love a birth mother must have to give up their child. While I am gaining a daughter or a son, I cannot help but hurt for the woman who has lost her child. In adoption cases, birth mothers can experience this loss for a variety of reasons. A lot of times with Ethiopian adoption it is because the mother understands that she does not have the means to provide for her child to thrive or because she is deathly ill due to malnutrition and disease. Regardless of why a birth mother is unable to mother their child, I feel that anyone who is adopting needs to realize that no woman would want to give up their child. Even if she didn't plan on having a child or wanted a child, I don't think any birth mom would say that this was her first option of how she saw things going with her life. I think it is very easy for an adoptive mom to take on this heroic type of attitude and feel superior, but my eyes have seen the hurt, pain, and love a birth mother has for their child. As an adoptive mom, I want to do my very best to speak with respect about the woman who birthed my child. When speaking about a child's birth mother, remember that you are not in their situation and so you need to be slow to speak and to judge.

Child- I have many friends who are adopted, so I hope I write this in a way that will come across with my true intentions for writing it. Every adoption case is so very different, and some adoptive children experience much greater loss than others. As much as I want to think that I would be my child's first choice, I have to realize that my child has experienced loss. I am not threatened by this, but think it is important for adoptive parents to be aware of this. Adoptive children have needs that biological children will not have because they have not experienced loss. Adoptive children may experience loss from family members that they may never see again or maybe they have even never met. With international adoption, as much as we want to teach our baby about Ethiopia, we know that much of their culture will be lost due to the fact that we will be raising them in America. This list can go on due to being raised in an institution, and many other factors, but my point is every adoption story has hurts and wounds.

Though we know adoption is not an easy path, we do know that there is sweet grace and mercy that can take sorrowful nights and turning them into joyous mornings. Many times when I write these blog post, I am not always sure of my purpose which probably isn't the best example of an English teacher. I know that adoption is spoken about much more than it was in the past, but I still feel there are many stereotypes and just unknown facts about it. Through this sometimes, I just want to share what is on my mind. We want Baby Woodson to see this is sort of as a pre-baby book of our journey to him/her. I also want this to be a place that brings awareness to others about situations and topics that come with adoption. I am so honored and blessed to be the mother of this beautiful child that I haven't even met yet. So yes, even though there is pain and hurting, adoption to me may just be one of the truest examples of the love God has for us. Through this adoption, I am learning more of what it truly means to be adopted into God's family, and the more I see it, the more I am in awe of such a loving savior.

Psalms 30:11

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Loving Someone You Haven't Met

Loving someone you haven't met can be difficult.

It's not the loving part that is hard. No, that part is easy.

Loving you is so natural. We talk about you, laugh about you, cry over you, pray for you, prepare for you, and dream about you. Loving you is easy, but it's not loving you how I want to love you that is heart breaking.

I want to love you with my eyes and see your beautiful face.

I want to love you with my touch and hold you in my arms.

I want to love you with my voice  and tell you how much I love you.

I want to love you the way I am meant to love you as your mommy. 

I can't wait for the day when we are no longer separated by miles, oceans, paperwork, and time. 

I love you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ethiopian Elections

Ethiopia is currently in election season.

Although the election is technically over, the results will not be announced until late June. Just like anywhere in the world, the appointed leaders are can have a huge influence on topics such as foreign adoption in their country.

We are praying for the right people to be appointed and that those elected will see the need for the children of Ethiopia to be united with families. Since we have started this process, rules and regulations have definitely changed more than once in regards to international adoptions. We are not worried about the outcome of the election or the results it may have on our adoption, but we are praying that adoptions will increase and that they will begin to move faster than the current trends.

Please continue to pray for the country of Ethiopia, for our adoption, and for our baby.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Adoption: No Horror Stories Needed

If you know me, you know I absolutely hate horror stories and movies. The scariest movies I watch are what most people would consider suspense thrillers. I am a person who gets scared easily and I don't need anything else to fill my imagination or thoughts with the what coulds.

I am not quite sure why, but I have found that many people who discover that we are adopting feel that is the cue to share the horrible experience their friend's cousin's sister had while adopting or trying to adopt. Everyone seems to know someone with a story that could end up on CSI, Unsolved Mysteries, or Maury. You know the stories where the kids are total nightmares who ended up doing something illegal and ended up in prison, the birth mother fought for her rights back and stalked the family, or the adoption never even happened after thousand of dollars and years of waiting.  

Trust me, adoption is scary enough without the constant reminders of what could happen. Most people who sign up for adoption understand that they are stepping into a world of risks and uncertainties. Also, if people are adopting for the right reasons, they know that most of the time it is not going to be a quick or easy journey to have a child in their home. What they are even more aware of is the fact that they are going to have to prepare to deal with a lot of hurt and extreme transitions once the child is home. Adoption and foster care training is very in your face and brutally honest. It sends many people running from the process, so if someone is adopting they know the reality of what is ahead of them.

I am not trying to say that it is certain our family will face terrible and scary things because we are adopting. We are praying for smooth transitions for sure, but we are also educating ourselves and are using wisdom to prepare for the worst because every adoption story comes from a place of loss and hurt.

Like anything in life, people who are going through trying and scary situations need encouragement not warnings. So whether your friend is facing a life threatening illness or making a big decision in their career, think about stories that would encourage and build them up. They have already played all the worst case scenarios out on their own. If you don't have an encouraging story then you probably should opt to not share one.