Saturday, November 22, 2014

Overjoyed and Overwhelmed

I intended to write a blog post last week explaining that we had a change in caseworkers because B had decided to change careers and was sadly leaving our agency. We were sad to see her go because we had specifically requested B to be our caseworker after we met her at the initial orientation and really liked her personality. It's pretty important for us to feel a connection to the person working as our caseworker. Even though we did not want to lose her, we had also enjoyed meeting "I," the caseworker who completed our home visit portion of the home study, so we requested to be placed in I's caseload if possible.

We were happy to hear last week from "I" that she was in fact assigned as our new caseworker. She is so sincere and sweet. She called me just to ask if I had any questions and to tell me that she's looking forward to working with us. She also loved seeing our profile book. "I" informed me that compared to other waiting families, we are more on the open side, so there was a likelihood that our profile might be shown to a tougher background situation soon.

So that was last week.

This past week, I turned 30 on Tuesday. I had a blast celebrating with friends and family over the weekend, and affectionately call myself 30, nerdy, and thriving! "I" even sent me an email on my birthday just to wish me a happy one.

Then came Wednesday, November 19th. Busy day at the office, but got to eat a quick lunch with Michael. Then my phone rang around 2:30 pm. I recognized the area code and actually thought it might be "I" calling.

Sure enough it was. "I" called and asked how I'm doing. I said good and thanked her again for the sweet birthday email. She said, "Well, I have a birthday present for you. On your birthday yesterday, I mailed your profile book to a birth mother with a tougher background."

"But today I have an even bigger birthday present for you: a birth mother saw your online profile and picked you guys to adopt her baby."

I immediately asked her to hold on a second, dialed Michael on my office phone and abruptly said, "Hi...come down here now." I don't think I was even polite enough to say please!

"I" chuckled a little and said it must be nice working close to one another. I agreed. She asked if I call him to my office often, and I said no, so he's probably thinking it's something bad. Michael quickly arrived and shut my door while I put my phone on speaker.

"I" repeated the news...and I think that's when my mind started to shut down because my heart and emotions took over. Because here's what she said next:

"It's a girl and she's due December 16th."

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She asked if we wanted to hear about the birth mother.

Of course!

So "I" told us the details she knew at the time: 17 years old, senior in high school, also lives in Texas, is very certain about adoption because she recognizes she is not prepared to parent and has goals/dreams she hopes to achieve. She said the birth mother waited a while to tell her parents because she was afraid of how they would react, but finally told them in early November. Since that time, the birth mother has been receiving pre-natal care.

She told us that the birth mother's parents were really supportive when she finally told them. And that the birth father and his family are also supportive of this adoption plan.

And here is where it begins to be a complete and obvious God-thing.

"I" told us that apparently the birth mother's mom, who was trying to show her support of the adoption decision, started searching online profiles.

On Tuesday - my birthday - she came across our online profile at ParentProfiles and as "I" said, "fell in love with us." She then showed our profile to her daughter (the birth mother) and she too fell in love with us.

Late Tuesday night, the birth mother called our agency and told them she wasn't interested in seeing anyone else's profile - she wants us to adopt her baby.

If you're not crying yet, grab a tissue in case this next part sends you over the edge.

"I" told us that one of the main reasons the birth mother's mom thought her daughter might like us is because the birth mother considers herself a "die-hard vegetarian" and loved that we are so passionate about that too.

You guys, the fact that we eat a plant-based diet was something we felt hesitant about stating in our profile because we feared no birth mother would want to pick us crazy leaf-eating hippies. Isn't that just so like God, to take something we're insecure about and reassure us that His love knows no bounds? And to think, we never would have been open to eating a plant-based diet had it not been for our struggles with infertility. I started weeping after "I" told us that part.

Furthermore, all along we have desired - but not expected - to end up in a situation where we might be able to pick the baby up directly from the hospital (at the minimum 48 hours after birth) instead of having to wait for placement to be at least 30 days after birth. In the latter situation, they place the baby in a transitional family's home while they wait the statute of limitations for the birth father to possibly appear to claim parental rights.

But in this situation, because the birth father is known, supportive, and cooperating, this will be the situation we have desired - pick up from the hospital.

All along, we have also desired a healthy birth mother who might take good care of herself while pregnant (no drugs or alcohol consumption). We were willing to consider some of the tougher situations where usage was involved, but that is not this situation either - the birth mother has taken great care of herself.

I'd like to just pause for a moment and link to this song that speaks directly to our hearts right now: "Overwhelmed" by Big Daddy Weave.

We are speechless and overcome with awe at how intimately God knows our hearts. And beyond that, He so tenderly touches the deepest corners of our hearts in unexpected and unimaginable ways.

This journey was not our original plan. But it has clearly been God's plan all along. It is because, and only because, of our inability to conceive a biological child that we even considered adoption in the first place.

And now there is a brave young lady and a precious baby girl inside her womb that are about to meld with our lives forever.

God's plans may not line up with your plans, and they might contain a fair share of pain and suffering, but I hope you can see from our story that His plans also contain immense joy and grace.

This is an answer to many of our prayers. A 4-year struggle with infertility led to an unexpected surprise of only waiting 3 months to be chosen by a birth mother to adopt her baby.

We are so excited, scared, overjoyed, overwhelmed, and completely awestruck.

In less than 4 weeks, we will become parents! And we're happy to share the name if you ask us, but on the blog I'll just share her initials: EVY - we plan to use that as a nickname anyway. :)

We have enjoyed sharing this joyous news with family and friends and thank you all so much for the outpouring of love and support. You have made us feel so secure and encouraged, which is what we needed with all of the emotions and short time line of preparing for a baby. We humbly ask that you continue to pray for us to be prepared, for the birth mother to have a safe and healthy delivery, for God to comfort her heart as she faces the emotions of placing her baby for adoption, and for our little "sweet potato" to feel the abundant love that already exists for her.

Much Love,

Thursday, October 23, 2014

So...Now What?

Many friends and loved ones have been asking for updates on our adoption journey. It usually goes something like this:

Friend: " is the"

My answers have probably been very underwhelming, but I just want you all to know that we welcome people to ask about our journey. So please don't ever hesitate to ask us about it. :)

With that said, I just want to prepare you for our typical answer when you do ask:

Me: "Good...we're just still waiting..."

That's pretty much all we're going to be doing for a while. And that's okay - we're prepared for that and are very used to waiting. The difference between our current "waiting" and our previous "waiting" is that there is an extremely high chance of a baby at the end of this waiting.

Over the past 4 years with infertility, the waiting was very uncertain with no guarantee whatsoever of a baby through pregnancy. That's what made it so difficult. There was no due date, no deadline, and no approximate timeline. Just the month-to-month cyclical agony of "Maybe?" and then "No."

But with adoption -- especially how God so clearly opened our hearts to even consider adopting in the first place -- we are very confident that a baby is on the way to joining our family. It may take a year or more for that to actually happen, but it feels more like a really lengthy pregnancy than the complete uncertainty that comes with infertility.

So...Now What?

If you are at all unfamiliar with the adoption process (like I once was), I'm happy to share what's been happening with our journey since getting approved.

First, you can see that more than 2 months have passed since we were officially approved. That's crazy to me how fast the time has gone, but in a good way. Our lives have been really busy during that time, but we have made some progress in the adoption process.

After we were approved, our caseworker, B, told us to work on our profiles. It probably varies by agency, but our agency wanted us to create:

  1. Printed profile book
  2. Agency's website online profile
  3. online profile
  4. Agency's Facebook page profile (if you are a sneaky super spy and you manage to find our profile on our agency's Facebook page, please do NOT comment or "like" it in any way; we do not want our personal Facebook account with our full names associated with our adoption profile.)

Thank God we had already started working on our printed profile book months ago! It took much more time than either one of us had originally thought. Granted, we are both perfectionists, so we spent a ton of time picking out the most appropriate photos, caption text, and organizing the flow of it. But our efforts clearly paid off because B literally had only four comments. Four! And they were so minor that she said we didn't need to run the final version past her before ordering the printed copies. If you're interested in seeing our printed profile book, you can click here to view it.

For the online profiles, we took a selection of photos from the printed book and used a lot of the same text. Having spent so much time and effort on the printed books made it much easier to build the three online profiles. The hardest part was getting familiar with each online profile builder. Again, I don't want to share the Facebook profile in order to avoid it somehow linking up with our personal account, but here are the links to view our profiles on the agency's website and

Now that we're finished with all of our profiles, we've completed all the steps that we have control over, so we are now waiting for the Lord to finish the rest of this story. Essentially we are waiting for a birth mother (whose situation fits with our level of openness) to view our profile and want to meet us. B said that our printed book will probably be shown around months 6-9 (February-May 2015). They only show a small number of books to a birth mother at a time (so as not to overwhelm her with choices) and they first show families' books that have been waiting longer to be fair. But anyone can view our online profiles and so potentially a birth mother could see our profile and contact our agency before our printed book is ever shown. Again, God is the One in control of this process.

During this time of waiting, our agency requests that we take various courses and continue to become educated about adoption. So far, we have taken a Baby Care Basics class and an Infant CPR class, which was where we met this creepy dummy doll:

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We have also joined a support group at our church specifically for families that foster or adopt. It's been wonderful meeting other families who have walked this road ahead of us and can offer some wisdom and perspective.

We're so thankful to each of you that continues to pray for us and support us as we wait for God to deliver our baby into our lives!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Webinar About Infertility

My friend, Jocelyn, told me about this webinar. I'll be busy during work that day, but hope to watch it later because I think it would be encouraging. If you or anyone you know is struggling with infertility, feel free to pass along this opportunity.

RBC Ministries e-Newsletter

Infertility: Finding Hope with Empty Arms - Join us for a live webinar event on Tuesday, October 14, 10am (EST).

Finding Hope with Empty Arms
Infertility is a difficult and delicate topic for 25% of couples in the childbearing stage of life. Few will talk openly about it. But Sheridan and Merryn Voysey do.
Join the Voyseys and host Tim Jackson on Tuesday, October 14, from 10:00-11:00 a.m. EDT as RBC Ministries presents a live webinar called Infertility: Finding Hope with Empty Arms. The Voyseys share their story of enduring a decade of failed in vitro fertilization (IFV) procedures and attempts to adopt without any success. They know firsthand the painful burden of hope deferred and the heartache and isolation that haunts couples struggling with infertility.
In this webinar we will explore some of the healthy and unhealthy ways a couple can respond when facing the problem of infertility. As a part of this lively discussion, you will learn to:
  • Identify how husbands and wives handle the struggles of infertility differently
  • Understand the challenges and decisions regarding infertility options
  • Understand the ethical dilemma of in vitro fertilization (IFV) for Christian couples
  • Discover the commonality in all broken dreams that is not unique to infertility
  • Understand how perhaps the greater tragedy than a broken dream is a life forever defined by it
If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility or another broken dream, plan to join us for Infertility: Finding Hope with Empty Arms and listen to a couple who has walked that road and found hope and healing.
Register today by clicking on the link below.
Join the conversation on Twitter! #EmptyArms

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Approved and Waiting!

We just wanted to share the good news that it's official - we've been approved to adopt through our agency, which means we're now officially waiting for a birth mother to choose us to adopt her baby!

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They have told us in the past that from this point forward, the average wait time is about 15 months, but it's all in God's hands. He knows the exact child that should end up in our family and we just look forward to meeting our little Burlap Sack Baby!

We would appreciate your continued prayers that we would have patience as we wait to meet our precious baby and prepare to become parents!

Friday, July 25, 2014

SO Worth the Wait

This past weekend was full of joyous celebration as I co-hosted a baby shower for my dear friend, Jocelyn. I met Jocelyn for the first time in August 2011 at NWYM class. I overheard her tearful conversation with someone else in the class that she had been trying to get pregnant for a while and didn't know what else to do. My ears perked up immediately, because my heart was struggling with the same thing.

I boldly introduced myself and shared that I too had been trying to get pregnant for several months (it had not quite been one year for me at the time) and asked if she wanted to be friends. We had an instant connection over such a heartbreaking trial.

I remember the first time we hung out, we shared our background stories and our struggles with infertility. Oh how much we hated measuring our basal body temperatures. (We even joked that hopefully after getting pregnant someday, we'd throw a thermometer burning party.) We shared our frustrations with the insensitive comments and questions from well-meaning people (So, do you have any kids? Oh don't worry, just relax, and it'll happen! Oh I know exactly how you feel - it took us 2 whole months to conceive our third child.) We also shared the bittersweet pain we felt when friends announced their pregnancies, and the feeling that we were left behind, forgotten by God and society even though our hearts longed to be remembered.

In a world that does not talk enough about, let alone understand, infertility and the deep pain it causes, we shared a sisterly bond that will likely last the rest of our lives. We got together regularly for lunch, and then stayed in touch through email and telephone after they moved out of town. We supported one another through all the doctor's appointments, blood test results, two week waits, negative pregnancy tests, and the dreaded periods. We encouraged one another, cried together, laughed together, reminded one another that God has a plan, and always kept hoping that one day our struggles would end with us finally becoming mothers.

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The thing about God's plan is that it takes time. Usually much more time than you want or realize.

But the point of waiting, and of suffering, is not what is waiting at the end of the road. It's all the bumps, rocks, and cracks along the way. 

Those sharp rocks hurt like nothing else, but they make you tougher. They teach you to accept your present circumstances but to push onward and not let your circumstances define you.

Those deep cracks that your countless tears fall into make you feel like your prayers go unanswered. That you are alone in the darkness. Uncared for. Forgotten. But when you're in utter darkness, you stand the best chance of seeing the tiniest sparks of Light. You're ears are primed and ready to hear the softest whispers.

It's the journey to what's waiting at the end that makes the waiting worth going through. As Michael so wisely said one time, "The blessing of infertility isn't so much the child at the end, but the trial itself."

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Though it is deeply painful, and makes you question everything about yourself and what makes you a woman, infertility is one of the greatest blessings God can give His daughters. Because it always has a purpose. You see it multiple times in the Bible - Sarah, Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah, Ruth, Rebekah - women who suffered years of waiting to conceive a child. But each child played an integral role in God's plan.

Every story of suffering, every trial, has a purpose. God truly does have a plan, but He will not be rushed. His plan is intricate and perfect and simply has to unfold according to His timing.

So while you're on that bumpy, rocky, crack-filled attention. Look around and listen for God. There is so much to be learned from Him along the journey. The waiting is not in vain. It's the most important part. And God's plan is SO worth the wait!

God, I thank you so much for answering my prayers for Jocelyn to become pregnant. I thank you for her friendship and the journey you've brought each of us on. You are always and only good, and I look forward to seeing the rest of Your plan unfold.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Home Study Part 2 Complete

We had our office interviews with our caseworker, B, on Friday, June 20th - the day before leaving on our vacation to Costa Rica!

We woke up early and drove to The Chosen Agency's office to meet at 9:00am. By the time we actually sat down to start the interviews, it was about 9:30am.

First, B interviewed us as a couple. For those that are unfamiliar with adoption, I want to shed some light on just how PERSONAL it is. There is nothing left under the table - we were asked about our marriage, our struggles, how we fight/resolve conflicts, strengths and weaknesses, how we plan to parent, what kind of expectations we have regarding the adoption process, the adopted child, and parenting. And we were asked for more detail about what situations we are or are not comfortable adopting with (such as ethnicity considerations, drug/alcohol usage, the nature of the unplanned pregnancy such as rape).

Michael and I consider ourselves to be pretty open and direct people, but it's very uncomfortable putting yourselves in the spotlight and having all your secrets, fears, and vulnerabilities exposed. We completely understand why the adoption process is so personal in order to look out for the child's interests, but I hope I've communicated well that the automatic "solution" to infertility is not necessarily adopting because it's an extremely invasive process that couples who only have biological children may not fully understand. (Imagine if when you got pregnant, your doctor began questioning you on the state of your marriage, struggles with sin, how you plan to parent, how accepting your family will be, etc.) We were real close to B after all those questions! :)

B interviewed us as a couple until about 11:30am, and then we broke for lunch. We drove to a local vegan restaurant and enjoyed a very tasty meal with dessert.

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We got back to The Chosen Agency around 1:30pm and continued our couples interview until about 3:30pm. B had told us that the whole thing would take approximately 4 hours to complete. Well, we must be very long-winded because 3:30pm was when we finished the couples interview. Then B interviewed Michael one-on-one until 4:00pm and they still did not finish all of the questions! B told us to enjoy our vacation and to schedule the remaining one-on-one interviews over the phone.

Well, we just completed our one-on-one interviews Wednesday and yesterday. These questions were also very personal: talked about our childhood, our parents individually, how we're alike and unlike our parents, how are our parents' marriages and parenting tactics, what we learned from them about marriage and parenting, other family members, strengths and weaknesses of our spouse, any physical, mental, emotional, or financial concerns related to adoption. So. Personal.

But, we're done, we've shared honestly and openly, perhaps more than she wanted to hear. It's been very humbling and eye-opening that so many life events and relationships can impact your personality and influence your parenting. Though we feel a little bit on display, we also feel more confident about becoming parents and learned a lot throughout these interviews. We're also really, really thankful to have B as our caseworker, because she is so friendly, sweet, and reassuring.

So now what?

B and her team will review our application in depth. (It sounds weird to say, but it's like we'll be discussed in detail in a committee.) After reviewing our application, they will decide whether or not to approve us to adopt through their agency. We should hear from them around mid-August with this decision. If approved, we'll officially be added to the waiting list. Yes, THE waiting list! That will also start the clock on their average "wait time" of 15 months.

God is good (always and only good). He has completely led this process, and we trust Him to work out all of the details as we wait to become parents. We're so excited to see His plan unfold!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Home Study Part 1 Complete

This past Friday was our first part of the home study - the house visit. The whole thing went even better than we would have thought and was much more relaxed than expected.

Since The Chosen Agency is located in a different city, our caseworker, B, sent fellow caseworker, "I", who was traveling through our area to conduct the house visit. "I" was super nice and was very helpful in filling us in on what happens next. She did a walk-through of the house, and talked with us about certain safety measures, such as developing a fire escape plan, filing a will, gun safety, child-proofing, etc.

It was fun to talk and get to know her a little better, as well as getting a chance to share our story with her. She said their main job as a caseworker is to make sure that the potential adoptive parents are well-equipped and knowledgeable to adopt a child. It makes logical sense that they work with a lot of couples who struggled with infertility, so they want to make sure that the couple has dealt with their grief regarding infertility and are fully prepared to parent an adopted child because raising an adopted child is very different than raising a biological child. In other words, adoption isn't always the best fit for every family, and they want to make sure the adoptive parents are prepared for the unique considerations associated with adopting. They also want to make sure the home is a stable and healthy environment for the child (healthy marriage and other relationships).

We felt very encouraged afterwards because Michael and I have come full circle regarding adoption, and we feel confident that adopting a child is a great fit for growing our family.

So what next?

The second and final part of the home study process will take place on Friday, June 20th. We'll meet with B for about 4 hours and get interviewed individually and as a couple. The content will be much more personal and will focus on our feelings, personalities, parenting plans, family/friends, etc. I'm naturally a crier, so I'm sure I'll shed a few tears simply because this whole subject is very close to my heart. :)

After the second part is complete, we should hear back from B within a month (around July 20th) about whether or not Michael and I are officially approved by The Chosen Agency. If approved, that date will officially begin our waiting period to be chosen by a birth mother. (They told us the average wait time from that point on is about 15 months.) God knows exactly how this story will end, and we're excited to see His plan revealed!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Burlap Sack Baby

I must say, going through the adoption process is much more fun and exciting than I ever could have expected. (Nice one, God!)

Throughout this process, we have found ourselves daydreaming and picturing what life will be like once we finally have a baby in our home. Our only experiences so far come from Michael's nieces and friends who have visited or stayed at our house that bring their children.

We're learning a lot as we go through this process about what kind of parents we strive to be. I think that's been the most exciting part for me - talking and daydreaming with Michael about what daily life will look like in the possibly near future. We've talked about family traditions we want to start or continue, how to raise and discipline our children, how to best meet and care for their needs, and how we plan to handle the daily "chores" of caring for a baby (feeding, baths, diapers, etc.)

A joke that has emerged from these discussions is what we call the "Burlap Sack Baby". It's meant to describe the fact that we are odd (crazy leaf-eating hippies), but we know we're odd, and there's no way to hide the fact that we're odd from the Chosen Agency...and because we're odd, the Chosen Agency probably has a crazy, rambunctious little rascal in a burlap sack set aside in a back room waiting just for us (because the Burlap Sack Baby is too wild for anyone else).

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Isn't this costume totally made JUST for us?! Potatoes...burlap sack...LOVE IT!!!
Courtesy of:

We are really excited to be moving forward towards parenthood. The love and excitement that our family and friends have poured out on us is so very special to us. We are so thankful that each of you are walking this journey with us and share in our excitement!

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Allen and Julie sent us this adorable gift. Burlap Sack Baby will not only get to eat vegetables, but can now PLAY with them! :)

We now have the two-part home study scheduled. The first part will take place on Friday, June 6th, where a social worker will visit our home to ensure it's a safe environment. At first I was nervous about this because I thought this meant we needed to have our house clean and spotless, but after reading online, I see that your house should look lived in - just put your guns in a gun safe and be prepared for fire safety.

The second part will be an office interview at the Chosen Agency's office on Friday, June 20th, where our caseworker, B, will interview us as a couple and individually. We specifically requested B as our caseworker because she led the breakout session at the information orientation we attended in February and we really clicked with her, so we're excited to be working with her from now on.

Thank you all for your continued prayers that God would lead this process and prepare us for parenthood!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We Have Some News...

We are NOT pregnant. Lord willing, He may someday allow us to conceive, but that day has not yet come.

I'd also like to wish all mothers a very Happy Mother's Day, including those who are still longing to become a mother. Mother's Day has been a day of sadness for me in recent years because it has served as a reminder that I am not yet a mother.

But today is different. Today, we have some wonderful news to share. News that we are very excited about on this Mother's Day:

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In a previous post, I talked about how we decided to wait until December 2014 to begin researching adoption, unless the Lord moved us to act sooner or later than that date.

Well, I'm not the most patient waiter. (Shocking, I know)

In the fall, I started to research adoption a lot little and long story short, we both felt peace about moving forward with the adoption process.

We have decided on the agency we want to work with, and are in the middle of the application/home study portion of the process. Once approved, they tell us that the "wait time," on average, is 15 months. But averages are averages, so it could be less, and it could be more. We're trusting God with that timing since He always knows best.

If you'd like to hear the longer version of this story, please read on.

Our journey to this moment has been a mixture of so many things: emotion, heartache, hope, conviction, and beautiful transformations in our hearts. All praise and glory belongs to God!

Why Do I Want to Adopt?
If I'm honest, my heart started from a place of "Well, if I can't have a baby biologically, then I guess I will adopt a baby." But it's not as simple as that.

My former view of adoption was that it was a charitable act of kindness. I was definitely one of those people who used to think/say, "Oh that's great of you to do that [rescue that child from certain doom]."

When we first began struggling with infertility, the idea of adopting terrified me. At that time, giving into the idea of adoption would have meant defeat. It would have meant acknowledging my failure as a woman to procreate - surely the very thing I was put on this planet for, right? (I now know that is wrong.)

But God slowly changed both of our hearts.

Our best friends moved to the D/FW area. The wife's parents fostered and adopted three little girls. And yes, little girls. The age difference between my best friend (the youngest of their biological children) and the oldest of the three girls is about 20 years. We've known the wife's parents and these girls for several years now and have visited them somewhat regularly.

The girls used to be shy around us, but as they've seen us more and more, they actually know us by name and still ask about us.

One weekend early in our infertility journey, we visited our best friends who had recently found out they were expecting their first little boy. She had made plans to sky dive, but changed her mind because of her condition. So the husband decided to take her place and go sky diving. It was a big deal, and so the wife's parents and three little girls also came to cheer him on.

The three little girls loved to play with Michael. Michael would spin them, flip them, tickle them, and carry them on his shoulders and they just laughed it up and asked for more. It was precious to see that sight. We felt love towards those girls, and they weren't even close to being considered our children.

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This was taken in June 2011, 6 months into our infertility journey.

On the drive home, we had our first conversation about adoption. The idea of adoption that used to scare us was not being able to love a child that didn't come from our bodies. We both were (and still are) a little squeamish around other people's children. Too often we have been given "the plague" by family and friends' little ones, so we tend to cringe and shy away from their oozing orifices. We used to think it would be the same if we adopted another person's child. (Just to clarify, we are not naive to think that our children will not have oozing orifices, we just don't care to encounter the oozing orifices of children that we are not raising.)

But this first conversation about adoption was driven by the Lord. He had stirred in both of our hearts - independently - that we could absolutely love another's child as we had felt love towards those three little girls who are not in our care.

We talked about how there is so much beauty and redemption in adoption. Those three little girls were each taken from three separate, broken situations. They are now together and being loved and parented by a couple who wants the best for them. They giggle and play and live as if there is no more brokenness in their lives.

Of course, I know that's not the reality. We all have brokenness. But it was the first time we saw that adoption was a wonderful and beautiful example of God's sacrifice for us. He gave His only "biological" Son for our sinful, horrible mankind. He not only gave His Son away, but gave Him away to a fate of torture and death. For me. For you. For us all.

Sometimes, a word as simple as "Wow" is all that can be thought of to express your feeling of something so profound.

Since that first conversation, we continued to hope and pray (and still do) that God would allow us to have biological children. Though our hearts had softened towards the idea of adoption, we had not yet felt the desire to adopt a child ourselves.

But more time passed. And passed. We went through the ups and downs most couples experience with infertility. Diagnostic tests. Frustration at no explanation for why we cannot conceive. Hopelessness. Renewed hope. More hopelessness. Yet more hope. Seeing friend after friend have one or more children. Feeling left behind and forgotten. The difficult decision to accept that you're only hearing silence and "wait" from the Lord. The difficulty of actually waiting! If you've kept up with this blog, you've probably ridden the roller coaster with me. (And I'm so thankful for you!)

Small events fostered more and more discussions about adoption. We met friends who have adopted children and loved hearing their stories. We watched a couple movies, like The Odd Life of Timothy Green and October Baby. October Baby especially moved our hearts toward adoption. Sorry to spoil some of the plot, but the idea that the main character, Hannah, learns that her life was almost ended as a baby by abortion, but God protected her, and brought her to a loving adoptive family, just melted our hearts completely. In the movie, Hannah searches for her birth mother. Eventually she learns that it doesn't matter where she physically originated...all that matters is that she is loved. Loved and wanted by her adoptive family. And loved and wanted by the Almighty God. That her life mattered. That all life matters.

We soon felt the conviction that we both desired to adopt a child someday. But I'll stress the "someday" part. We were still hoping that we could have biological children first, and adopt later. I'm guessing that this idea is pretty common for couples struggling with infertility. I think it partly goes back to my earlier mindset of "Well, if I can't have a baby biologically, then I guess I'll adopt a baby."

But in the fall, we felt conviction that we were wrong to rank order our children like that. It's not about having "real" children first (biological) and then having "other" children later (adoption). We just desire to have...children! We desire to become parents and to build a legacy as a family. Thankfully the Lord helped us sort that out.

But even though our hearts were open to adopting a child whenever He willed, we did not yet feel Him moving us to take action (I'll come back to this shortly, about how we decided to begin the process of adoption).

So as you can see, our hearts have changed so drastically from where they began. We saw the beautiful example of God's sacrifice for us through the idea of adoption.

If I had a son, I could not stand the idea of giving him away. Perhaps it's because I want a child so badly, that if I finally had one, I would cling to him/her all the more.

The idea that a young woman who finds out she is unexpectedly pregnant would still have the courage to give her child to someone else to raise and care's unimaginable to me. Unthinkable. But like God the Father, she would be giving a huge sacrifice for the sake of someone else. For the sake of a childless couple, like us, who desperately wants a child to call our own.

That's really at the heart of why I want to adopt: I want a baby to call my own. I know that's not reality. I've learned that any child I have, either biologically or through adoption, will never truly be mine. He/she will be the Lord's, and I will simply be the steward in charge of nourishing, caring, loving, teaching, and raising said child. But that's what I want. That's the desire of my heart. To finally be able to fulfill that role. I've been longing for a child to call my own for 3 1/2 years. 3 1/2 long years of waiting, hoping, praying, and longing.

My heart went from only wanting a child that came from my body to knowing that I could love a child placed in my care even if he/she did not come from my body.

The flipside to adoption is not only the birth mother's God-like sacrifice of giving up her child to another, but also the redemption that we, as the adoptive parents, would feel. When a person accepts the free gift of grace extended by God - all based on that sacrifice of His Son - that person is redeemed and adopted into His kingdom and called a child of God. He adopts us as His children! So us adopting a child from someone else would likely cause us to feel the heaviness of that birth mother's sacrifice, but also be in awe of the redemption that child will bring to our lives. We are loved so much by Our Father, that He would orchestrate the circumstances to bring this little life into our care and home. He would trust us enough to love and raise this child as our own.

Romans 8:14-17
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Galatians 3:26-28
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3-8
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us.

1 John 3:1-3
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

I find it remarkable how much the Lord has transformed our hearts. He has taken us both from being lukewarm about having our own biological children, to having the desire to love any child that could be called our own, even if that child did not come from our physical bodies.

Adoption is not about rescuing a child in need from certain doom. It's about expressing the kind of Christ-like love towards another life, and being redeemed by that same Christ-like love in the process. In short, adoption is a very odd mix of both parties being rescued from certain doom. Both parties living and experiencing the kind of redemption that can only come from God.


How We Decided to Begin the Adoption Process
Once we felt peace about adopting a child whenever the Lord called us to, I began my research into the process. There are so many options, that it can be overwhelming at first. And not every option would work for everyone. Just a brief, but not exhaustive, list of options includes: domestic, international, open, semi-open, closed (rare these days), foster-to-adopt, infant adoption, special needs, inter-racial, and varying ages.

So part of our initial research was being honest with ourselves about what we think we can and cannot handle. What we felt peace about and what we did not.

We have a strong desire to raise a newborn. As newly born as possible. Those that know us, know that we are quite different from the norm. We have very different views about child rearing, diet, and lifestyle. So we desire to raise our children - biological or adopted - according to our beliefs. Part of that begins as a newborn. We desire to breastfeed our children instead of giving formula, preferably my breast milk if we can make that happen or bumming breast milk from friends (sorry in advance if you get a creepy email from me asking you for your breast milk - it's for a good cause). I'm sure this topic will one day be a blog post on its own. :)

We also desire to adopt a child of the same ethnicity as our own. That's not to say that we would not be open to adopting inter-racially if God moves us, but at this time, our desire is to adopt a child that could somehow resemble us. Knowing my tendency to make snappy comments when people act insensitively to me, I would not invite a situation where our child would be constantly labeled as adopted while out in public. Here are a couple videos of what I'm talking about:

IF YOU WOULDN'T SAY IT ABOUT A BOOB JOB... from Rain City Church on Vimeo.

Nowadays, open or semi-open adoptions are the most common. The difference is mainly that semi-open still retains some level of privacy between birth parents and adoptive parents, whereas open adoptions encourage an active, continual relationship with the birth parents throughout the child's life. Each adoption situation looks different, and can depend heavily on which agency you choose to work with. We feel most comfortable retaining some level of privacy, leaning more towards semi-open than open.

Searching for the Right Agency to Work With
Once we discussed what we were and were not comfortable with, we started looking into potential agencies to work with. The first agency we looked into was located out of town, which I'll nickname the Big City Agency. We liked the idea of working with an out-of-town agency in order to avoid the awkwardness of possibly running into the birth parents at the grocery store or something. If the birth parents lived in a different city, the chances of that happening would be greatly reduced.

So we read the information packet about adopting through the Big City Agency. But we did not feel at peace in the least. Quite honestly, the tone, rules, and requirements were written in such a way that it made us feel like the Big City Agency is only on the side of the birth parents. They are an open adoption agency, but to an extreme in my opinion.

They require that one parent commit to being a stay-at-home parent full-time until the child turns 18.  While I desire to be a stay-at-home mom for at least half the time, we do not feel comfortable with an agency dictating to us about whether we can or cannot work for the life of the child.

They also require that the adoptive parents use one name that the birth parents give the newborn. Now, that's certainly respectable - they explain their reason for this rule is the importance of a name. We agree completely. That's why we want to be in charge of naming our own children. Our childrens' names are very important to us. We've had at least two names in mind for 9 years now.

And finally, the Big City Agency requires that the adoptive parents send lots of pictures, letters, and updates each month to the birth parents for the first 6 months and then twice a year until age 18. The adoptive parents would also have to agree to meet with the birth parents (with the child present) when the child is 6 or 7 months old, and then meet 2-3 times per year until the child is 18. Furthermore, the adoptive parents would have to agree to give the child whatever the birth parents send to the child throughout the year. Now, again, this is admirable that the Big City Agency seeks to promote such an open adoption situation. But that does not work for all families. And that does not work for our family. Though we will have tremendous respect for the birth parents and their sacrificial choice, we do not want to be obligated to visit with the birth parents for the child's life. We plan to tell our child that he/she is adopted and allow him/her to decide if and when he/she wants to meet the birth parents. We do not want to force those meetings if the child is not comfortable. And again, because we are quite different from the norm in terms of diet and lifestyle, it would be very awkward to feel obligated to give our child whatever the birth mother sends (i.e. the butter-filled cupcakes or the Miley Cyrus music album...cultural and dietary things we do not agree with).

In short, we desire to raise our children. Whether our children are adopted or come from our bodies, we desire to raise them according to our beliefs, and are not ashamed for dogmatically holding that view.

So to say the least, we did not have any peace about adopting through the Big City Agency.

Our next consideration was the Local Agency (my nickname for it). With the Local Agency, there is the potential for the awkward encounter at the store. But we liked what we read in their information packet. They too are an open adoption agency, but are much less "strict" than the Big City Agency, which is a wonderful attribute in our minds. Furthermore, the tone of the information packet was written in a way that made us feel like the Local Agency is on both parties' sides. Like they want what is best for everyone.

They request that one parent commit to staying at home full-time, but if that is not possible, to agree to not work more than 20 hours per week outside of the home (potentially allowing one parent to work full-time, where half of the time the parent works inside the home). This fit much better with us.

The Local Agency does not mention anything about using the name the birth parents give the child, and besides meeting with the birth mother during her pregnancy, there is no requirement to meet with the birth parents again. That allows each adoptive family and birth mother to decide how much contact they desire to have, which is how I think it should be. The Local Agency requires the adoptive parents to send updates during the first 6 months, but the updates are intended for the agency's review. And once the adoption is finalized, that's it, there are no more requirements about maintaining contact.

After we both read the information packet, we felt peace about inquiring more about this agency. But as it turns out, because this agency is local, they have a long waiting list of adoptive families, and only adopt about 8-10 babies per year, meaning that we could potentially have another 2-3 years before becoming parents. Furthermore, the Local Agency was not accepting new adoptive families because they already have so many waiting that have been through the approval process. We felt discouraged by this, but decided to put our names on the contact list in case they began accepting new families.

Finding THE Agency
In the meantime, we re-watched the TV show "Friends." Leave it to God to use Hollywood to move His children to action. For those unfamiliar with the show, two of the main characters, Chandler and Monica, find themselves unable to have biological children. So they decided to adopt, and ended up being matched with a birth mother in Ohio. We had a silly epiphany moment while watching this show that, "Hey, Chandler and Monica live in New York, but they were matched with someone in another state. Maybe we should look at a bigger agency that has access to birth mothers around the U.S., not just in Texas."

This reminded me of an agency (from now on I'll refer to it as the Chosen Agency) I had gotten information about during my initial search, but passed on because of the apparent higher costs. The Chosen Agency was one that some friends had also looked into and during one of our phone conversations, the wife spoke very highly of this agency because they have separate case workers for the adoptive parents and birth parents. This made a lot of sense to me because it's like having two realtors when a home is for sale: it doesn't make sense to have one realtor representing both the buyer and the seller - there is an inherent divided interest.

So I requested more information from the Chosen Agency. The more we read, the more at peace we felt. They have no restrictions on parents working vs. staying home, allowing the parents to decide how to raise their family. They help adoptive parents connect with birth mothers around the U.S. They place approximately 350 babies per year. By working with our own case worker, we would only be matched with a birth mother who wants the same level of openness as we do (semi-open).

We submitted an information sheet requesting to move forward with the Chosen Agency. They approved us, and invited us to attend a pre-adoption orientation on February 21st. It was a little bit of information overload (the orientation was an all-day event), but it was SO helpful and reassuring.

The first part of the morning was spent in a small group with one of the adoptive parent case workers. She walked us through the details of the whole adoption process, and allowed us to ask questions and look at examples of life books (photo books that are shown to potential birth mothers). The afternoon included a tour of their facility (they house birth mothers who have no other living arrangements), information about adoption tax credits, using the internet to build a profile for potential birth mothers (for those who are not in the same city as the Chosen Agency to look at the physical life books), the legal aspects of adopting through their agency, and a very helpful panel of adoptive parents and birth mothers.

My biggest takeaway from this orientation was that a birth mother is looking for a family to place her child with. Her biggest fear is that an adoptive family won't like her, or will judge her. And we felt encouraged to be ourselves (as crazy and leaf-eating hippie-like as we are in reality), because they want to know about the day-to-day aspects, as well as the future dreams, of the family they place their child with.

At the end of this orientation, we had the option of purchasing the full application forms to move forward with their agency (which we did). By submitting the main application form within one month of the orientation, we got a small discount on the total program fee. We have already submitted all of our application materials (medical forms, background checks, references, etc.) for the agency to review. Once approved, they will schedule and conduct the home study. Then we'll build our life books and profiles and we'll be officially waiting for a birth mother to choose us.

The Lord will have to be in complete control of this entire process, and we are faithfully stepping forward, waiting for Him to provide a child according to His plan.

I can't describe how excited I am. For the past 3 1/2 years, we've been what I call passively waiting. Praise be to God, that time of passively waiting was not fruitless. It was definitely required to teach us, mold us, and transform our hearts as I've described.

But now we're getting to move forward one step at a time. We're moving closer to becoming parents. It feels so wonderful, like we're expecting! Thank you, Lord, so much, for leading us through this journey. We're so excited to see what His plan is.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


A couple of months ago, we decided to try using DuoFertility to aid with conception. From what I can tell, not many people know that this product even exists, so I wanted to share my opinions about it so that you can decide for yourself if you think it's worth trying.

What is it?
It's essentially a fertility monitor that you wear on your body, and the purchase of the product includes the company's fertility experts who will monitor your cycle for you each month and give you a predicted window of fertility.

How does it work?
You wear a quarter-sized sensor just below your armpit that monitors your temperature 24/7 (or as long as you choose to wear it). You also have a handheld device that you upload the sensor's data to everyday. On the handheld device, you can also input various things like intercourse, menstruation, ovulation pains, cervical mucus, etc. You then connect the handheld device to your computer via USB and open the DuoFertility software to view your cycle's chart. The company reviews your temperature and other data, and gives you a predicted window of fertility (we call them our "green days") that should maximize your chances of conception. They tell you your predicted green days up to 6 days in advance, so you can plan your intimacy ahead of time if need be. Here's an example of what a chart looks like (this is from the instruction manual, not my personal chart):

 photo chartexample_zps62d7c052.jpg

How is it different than taking your own temperature?
Rather than having to remember to take your own temperature every morning...first thing before sitting up...after at least 4 hours of sleep...with only a BBT (basal body temperature) thermometer...phew, as you can tell, DuoFertility takes away the hassle of doing all of that. Since it's monitoring your temperature each day, it can determine the lowest body temperature while you sleep, so you don't have to think or worry about it.

How much did it cost?
They offer a few different packages: Lite, Premium, and Deluxe. I purchased the Premium package because I felt it was the best value (one-time purchase of $795).

What do you like about it?
As a recovering tempaholic, I love how DuoFertility does all the work for me. I also love the organization of the software and chart. I formerly kept track of all of those things in my own lame-o Excel file, but it's much nicer to have it displayed on their software. You can also save and download your charts to take to your doctor if you want to. I also love the customer service. They have always answered my questions in a timely manner, and there was so much more included in the purchase price than I originally thought (such as additional adhesives, LH strips, fertility expert access). Furthermore, there was one cycle that I ovulated much later than the predicted green days, and the customer service folks emailed me to tell me that so we would continue having regular intercourse - as if we needed a reason ;)

What do you dislike about it?
The only thing that's slightly awkward is that you wear the sensor on your body the whole time. Usually though, I forget that it's there. They say that it's waterproof and can be worn in the shower, but I noticed that the adhesive stopped sticking as well, so I choose to remove it before I shower, and replace the adhesive afterwards. I also sometimes choose to remove it while I workout because I don't want it to bother me. I also sometimes (but not usually) feel it when laying down to sleep.

Would you recommend it?
Absolutely. If you are someone who has been trying for a few months or a couple years, I personally think this is worth trying, especially before beginning any kind of fertility treatment. Even IUI can cost more than $800, and that usually involves dosing yourself with all kinds of hormones and such. My opinion is why not try DuoFertility for 6 months if that could mean avoiding those invasive procedures and high costs?

What's your takeaway?
I am the type of person who likes to know what's going on with my body, but doesn't want to pursue medical intervention. We also want to faithfully do our part each month to be open to God's plan of possible conception. My belief still stands firm that God and only God can create a life. I do not think DuoFertility is the answer to all infertility struggles and is not something you should place your faith in. I believe that if God wants to, he can bless our efforts of monitoring my body and the natural signals it gives off related to fertility. But I also know that no matter what the outcome is, God is good, He has a beautiful road to parenthood planned specifically for us, and I look forward to the day that I become a mother.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wish There Was a Button for That

First, let me apologize for my lengthy break in blogging. Work picked up for me, which meant I had much less free time to blog. But I hope to get back to blogging more regularly, so cross your fingers.

Life is full of joy, but also challenges. For those that experience the suffering of infertility, you can find yourself riding a roller coaster of emotions over a period of several years. My journey being no exception, I have had moments of solid trust and faith that God is in control and I'm 100% okay with that, and then seemingly the very next day will have a moment of complete despair and hopelessness.

Doubting is a part of life, as much as anything else (joy/bitterness, happiness/sadness, dancing/mourning). To be human, is to be filled with doubts. In those moments of despair and heavy doubts, I often wish I could simply escape it.

 photo 2013-08-08160432_zps858154a7.jpg

We have this button at work. Once the building is locked after work hours, you have to press this button in order to open the door.

In those moments of doubt and despair, I wish there was this sort of button for my life. With a simple push of a button, I could escape the pain and suffering of waiting for an unknown period of time for a child. It would be so much easier if I had a button like this to push in times of despair. It would be so easy to skip over this difficult part of my life.

But I think that's God's point of this, and any, trial. He doesn't want me to skip over this difficult part of my life.

He wants to share in this suffering with me. He wants to hold me and comfort me and listen to my every cry and catch my every tear. He wants to teach me what it means to persevere. He wants to teach me what it means to have unfailing faith, even when it makes logical sense to give it up. He wants to write a beautiful story leading us to parenthood, and to the specific children He has chosen for us, but He needs me to learn that time and events must fall into proper place for that story to unfold.

So it may be easy to have a button like this for your life when it gets tough, but skipping over the hard parts of life will not help you in the long run. You will miss out on so many character-building, faith-building, and relationship-building moments if you do. And trust me, those moments are worth experiencing.

I'm saying this as much to myself as I am to you, but try not to skip over the difficult parts of life. Instead look for God in those moments. Look for the ways that God is working, or the ways that He has blessed you. Sometimes you have to look really, really, really closely, but it is always there, somewhere.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.