Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Oh what a journey...

Here I am in Barbados, we finished up all of our appointments and now we are just waiting on her visa to be processed. I am in bed in the dark, listening to my husband's deep breaths of sleep and between us is our daughter, curled up on her side with legs crossed. I am trying not to move too much and trying to keep my hands off of her so that I don't wait her up. I should be sleeping too. I know she will wake in just a few short hours and be ready for a bottle. I just can't. Every night I lay here and thought just swirl through my head about this journey, how God brought us here, and why this way. I think about my friends who long for this moment and I hurt for them and I pray for them.

I feel like I have come a long way from that girl that said, "hey, do you think we are ready for kids?"  I don't know if anyone is ever ready. I think about how God has brought me such joy but then I think, what if this had not been the end result. What if children were not in the cards for me no matter what I did?

I read a blog a while back where a lady said she was grateful for her infertility. I read this AFTER we got our referral and I thought that lady is crazy. How can you be grateful for that?  It got me thinking. What has infertility done for me?  Could I be thankful?  Now, I can say, yes!  Because it pushed me towards adoption and now I have a precious baby next to me?  Partly, but not completely. Infertility has done so much for me!

Let's take Clarissa out of the picture. Before I knew we were really facing infertility issues, I had opinions...opinions on everything. It was very hard for me to consider a different perspective. One could chalk that up to being almost 10 years younger than I am now but infertility made me face the fact that life doesn't always take the path we want to take or had pictured taking. That will quickly make you reevaluate your opinions. I observed some people around me who where having difficulties and I just could understand why they weren't doing certain things, reacting certain ways, and why it was so stressful. Now, I realize that so so so many issues in life can not be comprehended if you have not walked in this shoes. Divorce, loss of a family member, abuse, etc. Because of infertility, I have learned that if I haven't experienced it, maybe I should keep my mouth shut. It is a skill I have master but I try my best to be more aware. Sometimes, we shouldn't speak.  We should just be there. And PRAY!

I was lazy in my walk with God. Lazy!  We weren't in church, I wasn't praying, and it didn't bother me. Infertility forced me to come face to face with my helplessness and God's strength. I am happy to say that we have been back in church for years now and we are actively seeking His will for our life and praying about new endeavors in our near future.

We did not know about or actively look at the condition of orphans or the world around us before infertility. Our eyes have been opened and we give and volunteer more to help others.

I was a person who did not wear my emotions on my sleeve. I avoided getting close or really even paying attention to stories that my pull my heart strings. I know that sounds bad but the truth is I was spoiled. God had always blessed me with everything I felt I needed. I didn't understand loss, hurt, deep sadness, or loss of anything that I held dear. Oh boy, that changed. Infertility is not the loss of a parent but I know now what it feels like to have that gaping hole and to wonder why God would do this. This has probably rocked my world more than anything. I am still slow to hug or show my emotions but my heart breaks now. It breaks all the time as I look around at what my friends and people in the world around me are going through. And I PRAY!

Infertility has brought me friends. People I never thought I would be friends are now close friends. This and my Mary Kay business go hand in hand. I never would have had my first facial if I had not reached out to a girl in my church. I read her blog, found out she was going through infertility issues, and asked her to lunch. This lead to friends, so many friends. Plus, I now have a way to meet new women and hopefully touch their lives. I am so grateful for this and ALL of the women I have met through this.

I feel like because of infertility, I am a new woman. A more compassionate woman. A more open woman. I like this new woman!  Is this the path I would have chosen to take for all this growth, no! Absolutely not!  Did I know best?  No!  Absolutely not!  God is so much wiser than me. He knew what kind of fire it would take to mold me. I am still being molded. I still can't understand why God chose to take us in some directions but after all of this, blessing me with everything I mentioned above, I trust Him more than ever before. That doesn't mean I don't have bad days but it does mean when I come to my senses, I am content, satisfied, happy, blessed!

It has been a journey of baby steps. Sometimes, I wish I had stopped to enjoy it more or had a little more faith, but I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't give up a single experience, even curling up crying on the couch for three days. It made me, my marriage, and my faith stronger.

Please remember...God is good, He loves you, and He knows how to give good gifts to His children.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

And now, the rest of the story...Part 3

Here we are...3 1/2 months after our first trip.  We have been waiting desperately for a court date.  We knew that if our court date was not set by 11/17, Clarissa was not coming home this year.  That was stressful to know.  Today, we got the news!  October 24th is the day!  We are so excited!!  Sometimes, I still can not believe we are here.  According to the timeline on this blog, we have been trying to grow our family and waiting on God to bring us a child for over 4 1/2 years!  Now, in 24 days, I will officially be a mom.  Crazy!

This all means we travel one month after our court date.  Give or take a couple of days, we will be flying back to St. Vincent on Thanksgiving!  What a way to celebrate a holiday all about giving thanks!!  This time my mom will be coming with us.  Another thing for which to be thankful!  It will take a load off of my mind knowing I have someone with me who has mothering experience.

This also means there is a deadline to get this house in order!  Oh my, let the true nesting begin.

We are so grateful for all of the prayers and support that everyone has given us along this journey.  God could not have given us better friends!  We are still working every way we can to raise the last bit of money for this journey.  I am still booking appointments through my Mary Kay business and every bit of profit from there is going to this.  We have also started a gofundme page.  Any way you want to help would be greatly appreciated!!  We need prayer warriors, we need people who are willing to host a girl's night and be treated to a Mary Kay makeover, and we need people who want to give to our fund.  Please share our gofundme page with all your friends and family.  Where we stand now, if only 100 people donate $65, we will be fully funded.  That really isn't that much or that many people if you think about it.

We are in the home stretch now and can't wait to see how God is going to work.  I know He can move mountains and work miracles!!

And now, the rest of the story...Part 2

Our first trip was a whirlwind.  Whew!  We traveled almost exactly a month after our referral.  June 14-22, 2014.  We took a round about way to get there but we love traveling so that was ok.  A friend of ours very generously donated some frequent flyers miles that saved us quite a bit of money.  We went from Atlanta to Puerto Rico, where we stayed overnight.  The next day...St. Vincent!  From Puerto Rico to St. Vincent, you fly on a much smaller airline, which is pretty much a bus in the sky.  They start from one destination and then make stops at different island.  If it is your island, you get off and others get on.  Going and coming home, we made an additional stop that wasn't on our ticket but by the time we came home, we knew what we were doing. So, finally, after three stops we made it at around 9:00pm  We went straight to eat. HaHa! We were exhausted and starving.  Good thing there was a restaurant at the hotel. Finally, we made it to our room. It was time to get ready for the next day.

I did sleep that first night but not much.  The next day we were going to meet our daughter.  What would it be like?  How was the foster home? What is her foster mom like?  Will she like me?  Will I screw up so much that the foster mom will tell me I can't have her?  The biggest fear for me was...would there be a connection?

I am not a hugger.  I am not overly emotional.  I do not run over to other people's children and start playing with them.  I do not run up to new mothers eager to hold  their babies.  What would I do with this new baby that is supposed to be mine?

I dreamed of this day.  In my mind, it was going to be like those cheesy movie scenes where the two people run towards each other on the beach and embrace.  What happened?  We walked inside and she was taking a nap.  HaHa!  She didn't care at all that we were there.  She was asleep and even if she was awake, she was only 3 months old.  Here is me trying to contain myself and not ruin her nap.
It was all I could do not to pick her up.  I think her foster mom knew that so she told me to go ahead.  She did not have to tell me twice.  I don't think Clarissa appreciated it.  She groaned a little but didn't cry and quickly went back to sleep. Pretty much all of my fears went away.  Her foster mom is so great.  I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am for her.  Her home is well taken care of, aka spotless and full of love and laughter. Our first day overlapped with another adopting mom so the house was full and bustling. The first day was a little awkward for me.  I didn't want a crowd watching if I didn't know what to do with her and so I was a little afraid to fully be first.  I have to say the first time Clarissa slept against my chest, my heart melted.  It felt so normal and right.  Side note: It is HOT there!  We also wanted to make a good impression so we wore jeans and I had a tank top on under my shirt and Paul wore an under shirt beneath his polo.  We didn't want to look immodest or unkempt just for the sake of being cool. So, when she slept against me, we bonded emotionally (on my part anyway) and physically through the sharing of sweat. I knew she was mine!

For many reasons, that was a long, draining, wonderful day that I will never forget!

We got to spend Tuesday-Friday with her.  It was great.  Her foster mom taught me how to give her a bath, let me change her diaper, and feed her. Paul even got a poopie diaper.  On day three, we really bonded when I was greeted first thing with a poopie diaper, got peed on during the bath, and made her cry "bloody murder" when I didn't get her dry and warm fast enough.  Every day we kept her awake a little longer and got to coax some smiles out of her.  Her foster mom gave us space to just be with her and made us feel so comfortable.

Friday, I didn't think I could give her back.  We told our driver to come and get us at a certain time and I knew the best thing was to stick to that time and leave.  It was a wonderful day.  She laughed and smiled with us.  We walked her around the yard and talked to her.  I think I kept letting Paul hold her more that day so I could distance myself.  Towards the end of the day, it was all I could do to keep myself together.  I am crying now while I am writing this post.  We tried our best to keep her awake for as long as we could.  We knew that was over when she got fussy.  I rocked her to sleep in my arms just like I had done all week.  I tried my hardest not break down.  I knew I was coming back for her but I couldn't hold back the tears.  I held her while she slept and then our driver arrived.  I put her down in her bed and had to walk away.  I think that was the hardest thing I had ever done. I hugged her foster mom and the lady she had there to help her.  We all had tears in our eyes. Before this trip, I never knew how in just 4 days I could love someone so much.  I didn't speak much to anyone when we left.  I would pull myself together and then out of no where, I would just lose it.  In the car, in the hotel room, on the plane, and after we got home.  It was sad that when we got home, life had changed and not changed.

So in my last post, I said a lot has happened and not a lot has happened.  Here is the "not a lot".  After all this excitement, we came back to life.  And waiting. And waiting.  Waiting for paperwork to go through and waiting to hear about a court date.

And now, the rest of the story...Part 1

It has been a while. A lot has happened and not a lot has happened.  That does make sense, just wait.

So, in regards to our adoption journey, let me catch you up.  Sometimes it is easier to keep everyone updated through Facebook.  Just type out a quick status and everyone knows what is going on.  That is probably why I have let this go.  I want to take time and fill in more of the story. This would probably be a pretty long post but I'm going to break into a couple of parts.

As most of you already know, we have a REFERRAL!!  I remember watching other adoption blogs and longing for the day that I would make that post.  I remember thinking "just a few more months" and "maybe next year will be our year".  Well, it has been a long time coming.  So, after one failed adoption, a few fertility treatments, and a lot of waiting, here is our story...

We have been in the St. Vincent program since November 2012.  We got our paperwork together and went on the waiting list around June 2013.  Now, May 13, 2014, Tuesday after Mother's Day, my cell phone rings.  The caller id said it was our social worker.  I was not expecting a call from her so my mind immediately said, "this is bad".  I, mean, why wouldn't it be with our track record?  I was on the home phone with Paul at the time and quickly let him go with a promise to immediately call him back and let him know what is going on.  I answered and our social worker was pleasant and asked how I was doing and then started reminding me of what she told us at the beginning.  Even though our preference was for a girl, she would let us know whenever any child became available, just in case we changed our mind.  I instantly broke out in sweat all over.  Is this it?  Is this a referral call?  It can't be!  Just a couple of months earlier, we had a check in call.  We went over where we were on the list (3) and I joked with her about hearing from her long before our USCIS expired.  She laughed and said, "I hope so too but don't expect it."

She finally said, "I guess you just want me to get to why I called."  I think I chuckled and said, "yes please."  Really, it might have just been a grunt because all I remember is being really hot and not able to breathe.  She proceeded to tell me that we were #2 on the list and 2 children have just come available.  Oh my goodness!!  This IS it!  I was told about the children and I tried to write down every word.  At this point, we had to discuss both children and determine what we would do in case of any scenario.  We had no idea what the family in front of us would do.  One of them was a baby girl, not quite 3 months old.  I couldn't believe that God had brought us everything we had asked for.  I thanked her for calling (probably in a giddy, breathless way that made no sense except in my own head) and called Paul.

"What did she say" were the first words out of Paul's mouth.  "We got a referral!"  He was in disbelief and so was I.  We just laughed for a little bit and then I told him about the two children.  We discussed a lot of different options and even asked if we could adopt both.  The next night we were at church early and waiting on a call from our social worker.  That night we accepted the referral for the little girl and never looked back.  We immediately starting planning our first trip to meet her.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life really can move forward!

I'll just jump right into things, shall I?  As I have said before, I was so glad to move past last year.  It was a really bad year, but I'm not quite sure what I thought this year would hold, and I'm not quite sure I could have predicted what has already occurred. 

We have finished all of our paperwork for our St. Vincent adoption, including USCIS fingerprints.  Now we wait.  Wait.  Wait.  I know we have moved forward and things are progressing...but on the adoption/kids front, I can't really tell a difference in our lives between 3 years ago (did I really just type 3 years?) and now. 

Earlier this year I told Paul about how stuck I feel.  How I feel like nothing has changed in our lives.  I have told him and some friends that something has to give.  I'm either going to get a tattoo, dye my hair purple, or cut it all off.  Well, life is gradually changing and for the better. 

I was talking with this girl from church one day and said, "Come over, let's play in makeup and talk about baby woes."  She did and we talked for 3 hours about everything under the sun, I think.  I told her about how I just feel so useless sometimes.  I quit work 5 years ago so we could have kids and start a family.  Well, that worked out real well.  So, here I am at home feeling like I'm not contributing to the family.  I guess I contribute by keeping the underwear and dishes clean.  How glamorous!  This girl ended up inviting me to her Mary Kay meeting and tried to recruit me to sell.  HaHa!  What is she thinking?  Now, I love makeup but I don't know how to use it and I am definitely no salesperson.  I even came home and laughed with Paul about how funny it was that someone could think this was for me.  For some reason, though, it wouldn't leave my mind.  We talked about it over the next few days, back and forth, how silly the idea was and then how maybe it could be a good thing.  I did it.  I took the plunge and became a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant.  I was going to sell makeup...or so I thought.  I went to the meeting and heard them all talk about "enriching women's lives" and all that jazz.  I thought, "bah, whatever, we sell makeup and I'm going to pay off some debt, end of story."  Then I had a few parties and facials.  I saw women walk in carrying themselves one way and walk out carrying themselves another way.  As I have worked, I have felt the change in myself.  I have become more confident (still a little awkward but it is building).  I have taken more pride in my appearance, which had also built my confidence, and I don't feel so stuck anymore.  Mary Kay is giving me the opportunity to contribute to my family and still be here for them.  I can be ready to go at a moments notice when we get our referral and not have to ask for time off from a boss or make sure someone will cover my workload.  You know how everyone has, credit cards, student loans, failed adoption, etc.  Well, now because of Mary Kay, the weight of that doesn't have to sit solely on my husband's shoulders and I didn't have to choose between family and career.  In fact, the company doesn't want me to choose.  They actively promote Faith First, Family Second, Career Third.  Ok, ok, I know you are thinking I turned my blog into a Mary Kay commercial.  I guess you would be right but I am very excited about the possibilities that Mary Kay holds for us.

I know some of my friends probably think I am crazy.  They probably think I am just another corny Mary Kay lady, but that is ok.  I have met a lot of other Mary Kay consultants since signing and I am happy to be one of them.  I have never seen them exhibit a negative attitude.  They are always encouraging.  They are always building each other up and not tearing down.  Women don't do that.  You put us in a room together and we will rip each other to shreds...but not here.  I could go on and on but I won't. 

So, that is what's happening in our lives right now.  While the adoption/kid front is still in slow motion, I have decided to move forward in a new direction.  I'm helping women, either by giving them a product that they love and that makes them more beautiful than they already are, or by telling them about this wonderful opportunity to live the life about which they have always dreamed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We did it again!

We did it again!  We finished another dossier!  YAY!  This dossier should be mailed out tomorrow!  (Lots of exclamation points!!!  hahaha)  Our home study is at our agency being reviewed.  Hopefully, everything is ok with that.

This is just a quick update.  Let's pray that the mail moves fast and that we did everything correctly!

I can't wait to post that all of our paperwork is done and approved and we have entered the waiting stages again!  (never thought I would say that again hahaha)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gotta Keep Busy

Quick adoption update:  Home study paperwork mailed today!!  Woo Hoo!!  Now to cleaning the house for the home visit and the paperwork for the dossier.  Our plan is to have our dossier paperwork complete by the time our home study is finished.  That would be wonderful!!

So....what do I do in the mean time when I stay at home and have no kids?  Well, I go a little crazy when it rains for what seems like forever, watch a lot of Psych, look at the internet (pinterest) a little too much, and plan how to redecorate my house.  I decided that curtains in my living room was a good place to start.  I have not had curtains in the living room ever.  We built the house about 12 years ago so I think it is about time.

I saw this picture on Pinterest of curtains with a shelf over them and I really liked it.  I thought, "Hey, I can do that!"  I didn't follow the link all the way and read the original post or even know if there is one, sometimes those links don't go anywhere, but I did my own version from the picture I saw.

Christmas came and Santa brought some extra money!  So, off my mom and I went curtain shopping!  It was a good trip and we got everything I needed for my project.  Now for the work...

I had to paint the pieces I was going to use for the shelf mount and it would also hold the curtain rod.

Then the next day we cut the dowel rods to work as curtain rods and the piece of wood I would use as the shelf.  While I put the second coat on the mount pieces, my husband starting painting the dowel rods and shelf pieces to match.
You can see the shelving and other dowel rod under the newspaper.  Sorry it isn't a very good picture.
Once that was all done, it was time to assemble everything together and install!
So after 12 years of looking at this...
This is what my windows look like now...
I'm so happy with how everything turned out.  It really makes the living room so much more cozy than it was before.
What to do now...