Sunday, February 9, 2014

Being Real


Today, I had a mini meltdown about being snowed in, trapped with our piles of crap that needs to be put away and kids who don't want to be here (I assume the babies don't care, but Eli asks constantly to leave the house). So during Naptime in my perusing of Facebook I started getting so frustrated with people having time for crafts or whose house looks spotless or who don't seem bored with their kids watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 24/7...

And I just realized that the reality of everyone's life is different. I'm not supposed to be able to do it all. One of my biggest pet peeves since the twins were born is people saying "Wow! I don't know how you do it..." Sometimes, I just want to say "I am not sure what your definite of 'doing it' is, but I'm not sure I am..."  Trust me, I am not trying to martyr myself here. It makes me uncomfortable when people praise us for caring for three kids born in less than 24 months. We just do it. If you had the chance to do it, you would be able to do it too. And if you have none, or one, or two, or four, you're probably still maxed out. Stressed out. A little less patient and filled with grace than you would like. We all are at our max. So you don't know how I do it- how they are all matching and fed and clean and I  am standing upright  with my eyes open? Well I don't know how you work and care for your one child and function at both. You're my hero. I couldn't do it, and quit in a fit when he was 6months old. I don't know how you have a 5 year old and a newborn. The difference in development must be so hard to do- a foot in two worlds. 

I see moms all the time who are barely holding it together or shoving things in cabinets for company to come over. I love them all dearly, my friends who are trying to hold it together or feel like they should have it more together but somehow don't. The houses I go to for work- fumbling to bring us coffee while shaking with nerves about what our developmental testing will show for their child. Sitting on the stain on the couch so we don't see that their kid drinks Kool Aid- and spills it too. 

Right now, I feel like half the time we have a handle on things and half the time I am not sure we will ever have a handle on things. 
When I have company over and just leave this (about 8 hours of dishes) in my sink. The sink that I used to scrub clean every night before bed. 

This coffee mug I noticed today- from a play date I had here on Friday (three days ago). Whoops! 

This? This is the area between our dining room table and the wall that is farthest from sight. That's two infant seats. A bumbo. And a rock-n-play sleeper. 

This is three days worth of cloth diapers for three kids. I used to stuff them and fold them colored side up in a pretty basket in my living room. Eh. 


And this is jail. Haha. Well not technically. But this is like two or three days worth of laundry. The way that some ladies lay awake and dream about Christian Grey, I dream about a first floor laundry rooms. 


This might look like a haphazard something I forgot to put away. Nope. We store these snot management tools right on the back of our couch this winter cause they are in constant CONSTANT use. 

And the pi├Ęce de resistance...this dead stink bug has been clinging to the toe plate below my kitchen garbage can for at least a day. Every time I see it and try to pick it up, I have a child in my arms and can't. I tried with the foil and failed. So now the foil it there too. (And the funny thing I just realized? I took a pic of it during Naptime but can't remember if when my hands were free I actually threw it out). At least it's a dead one and not part of their live army taking over Pennsylvania. I promise, by publication it will be gone. 

Toys in odd places...a sad dog who hates winter too. 

But you know what? It's ok. Today Eli and I played choo choo trains in whispers while the twins slept. The twins were adorable holding arms and talking to each other. And my heart melted. We are so lucky. 

And sometimes everything gets washed and I feel like queen of the world...

And so, moms (and dads) how are YOU doing it? Some days we barely are. But we do. You just do. There's not another choice- we parent. We laugh, we cry, we struggle through and sometimes succeed. And for those of you following who are hopeful adoptive parents, I know you long for the sink full of bottles and the 12 poopy diapers I changed today. I've been there too. I hope I don't sound ungrateful for our triple blessing. I'm not. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. And sometimes, overwhelmed in general :) 

So the next time someone puts me up on a pedestal wondering how I DO IT??  I will just be honest that some days I am not sure how. And some days when pinterest or TV make me feel less than, I will revel in the sweet moments with my kiddos that remind me that somehere along the way, I must have done something right by the grace of God. 

In Him, 

Meg

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Orphan?



Orphan. The Orphan Crisis. In the evangelical church scene in America, this is one of the social issues that is the most emotionally charged and highly publicized.  Since beginning our adoption journey in 2010 and bringing our son home through domestic adoption the following year, we have received so much...praise?...over our desire to “help with the Orphan Crisis.” 

This gives me pause. And looking at our our three healthy, happy children who came home with us straight from the hospital, I hope this will give you pause also. Did we adopt our children because we felt that God put adoption on our hearts? Yes. Did we adopt our children because of infertility issues? Yes. Were our children in need of being adopted? Yes. Were our children one of the world’s 143 million orphans?

No. 

My  oldest son, who came to us through a private, open, domestic adoption, was never an orphan. He went straight from his loving birthmother’s arms into mine. She made a thoughtful and difficult parenting decision for him, in circumstances when she was not able to parent him. She has stayed involved in his life, and he has two whole families that love him to pieces. Did he spend one single second an orphan? Not at all. And as we have started this second adoption journey with our twins, the same holds true for them. Their birthmom has been a text away for any medical question we have had, and we are excitedly planning our first visit for February. They were never orphans. 



We felt God’s hand on every part of our adoption journey. From the expectant mothers He paired us with, to the difficult moments during the relinquishment, to building our open adoptions in a way that honors Him. The day we decided to adopt was the day our  oldest son was conceived. Literally to.the.day. God’s hand was on it. God moved on two broken situations- our inability to have a family by birth, and our children’s birthparents’ inability at the time to raise and care for the children she loved so much. God is in all that. He knows our days from beginning to end, and saw the joining of these three families. It is an absolute joy to parent our children, and have a relationship with their first families. 

But I think we, as the church, need to draw a very firm line here. I think to label our infant adoptions as part of “The Orphan Crisis” takes away from the very real need of millions of kids in the world who have no parents at all. I think it also takes away from our three and the truth, pain, and beauty of their story.  They were not orphans, yet another home was sought for them. Two separate issues in the world. 

Now, step back about three years. When we started this journey, I too believed that infant adoption was part of the Orphan Crisis. We were uneducated and cautiously willing, and heard again and again about this crisis in the world. We never specified newborn, we never specified Caucasian, and we didn’t specify “healthy.” But we also weren’t beating down the door of the state capital and their hundreds of school-aged kids with no parents available. We weren’t traveling to a third-world country to bring home a child in need of multiple surgeries. We were adopting to fulfill a desire to become parents. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it is done ethically and thoughtfully. Through our process though, our eyes were opened. We began to bristle when well-meaning fellow Christians labeled our  first son an orphan. We cringe now when strangers tell us they are so grateful we were “willing” to take in our two black children.  Walking through our first adoption, we knew that the spirit of the word “orphan” did not apply to our son. Even his adoption decree from the County Orphan’s Court annoys us. It does a disservice to his loving birth family to imply that they abandoned him to orphanhood at any point in his life. This feeling has continued through our second adoption, and the knowledge we have gained has shaped how we react to those comments. 

The actual orphan crisis is so much more. Children who have lost one or two parents. I would also include children in foster care who have had the rights of their biological parents terminated. If we, as The Church (the body of Christ as a whole, not your own church in your own town) want to help with The Orphan Crisis, adoption is one way. Its one of many ways. It is not the only way. Helping third world countries care for their orphans is another way. Helping countries build infrastructure to keep families together is one way. Challenging unethical  adoption agencies that are doing no more than human trafficking is one way. Sponsoring a child. Becoming a foster parent or a Safe family ( www.safe-families.org). There are so, so, so many ways to help. 

Should we, as Christians, continue to partner ETHICALLY and without coercion with mothers who have chosen of their own free will to place their children for adoption? Yes, if we feel led to. Should we continue to be true, and honest, and transparent in building open adoption relationship if the birth family desires? Yes, absolutely. There is value, tremendous value, in holding ourselves to a high ethical standard in the world of private adoptions. In setting an example for the broader world of adoption. I believe that the evangelical church as a whole, and ourselves as individuals, need to just be very cautious with how we pray for, and about, these two very different adoption scenarios. If we feel called or led to partner with a birth family in raising a child, that is wonderful. But let’s not label it with the misnomer of “Orphan Crisis.” 

I’m curious how your local church body talks or views adoption and orphans as a whole...please share your thoughts!


In Him, 

Meg
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Still Rocking

This summer, I wrote about rocking Eli before we rocked his world. About how I didn't know when he would become a brother, and how I would just hold him at night and wonder if this was the last time with his as our only baby. 

The day we got the call to drive to another state for the twins' birth, right before we left Eli with my parents, I sat and rocked him in his chair.  We don't always rock him, but when he is needy we do. This time though, it was me who was needy.  I was scared of becoming a family of 5 overnight. Scared of getting hurt if things didn't work out. Scared of never getting those precious moments again with him. 

This journey, three kids born in 24 months, has been hard. A blessing. Something that is shaping and changing me. Hard. Did I mention it's hard? And worth it, absolutely. In those moments when N&E smile at me or Eli does something so sweet and big brotherly, I know it's all worth it.
And I might not get many of those baby moments with Eli anymore, but the big kid moments are just as special. 


Tonight, I sat wearing out the floor in my rocker with a new baby. She's learning to be unswaddled and having a hard time. I rocked my littlest and felt the rightness of it. Time moves on and families grow. Rocking N tonight, I didn't regret that it wasn't Eli. Before they arrived, that was one of my fears- that having three kids so close together, I would be rushing away Eli's babyhood. A two year old seems so big compared to a newborn. Tonight, it was just this new phase that I am in. It felt so right. When we couldn't discern the path for our family, God could. When I said "Lord I don't think I can handle this," He said "You sure can't, without Me." What a journey of reliance on Him this has been. 

For the foreseeable future, I will still be spending my nights rocking...

In Him, 

Meg 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our Nest is Full... Of love, and of Babies!

Hi dear friends! I know we have been silent for about six weeks...and some of you have noted that the last time we went "silent" Eli was born. Well, you're right! At the end of October, just before Eli turned two, we were blessed beyond all comprehension by the birth of boy/girl twins, N & E.

 Their birthmom placed them with us Novemer 3rd, and we were able to come home to Pennsylvania November 6th. Please grant me some grace as I find the words and way to tell their story. In a million ways, it's different than Eli's. And in a million ways it reminds me of his story. Heartache and love, our joy coming at someone else's loss. This adoption brings changes to our journey. A long-distance open adoption (just one state over but too far for a day trip!). A transracial adoption. A sibling placement- the twins are the only two people in our family biologically linked. Plus raising three children born within two years, and all the challenges that brings. So far Eli has done amazing as a big brother. Some days are hard but it's always worth it. 

We realize our journey has once again been faster than most, and we are ever cognizant of the hurt that causes those of you still waiting. I truly believe that if God puts this call in your heart, He will fulfill that desire He planted.  My prayer is that for you. That you see the glory of His plan- even with all the messiness and uncertainty of adoption- and feel comfort in that. 

Early in this second adoption, I proclaimed to everyone we talked to "Our wait will be long. I know it. No way we will be blessed that quickly twice."  When we were matched with the twins expectant mom, I was shocked. Looking at a calendar, we found out about our matches on day 47 of both of our waits. I don't think God likes it when I say how much or how often I think He will bless us ;) My repeated "no way that will happen again"-- His plan is bigger than any of that worldly insecurity. 


I will share some pieces of the twins story, and our family as whole, as I find time over the next couple weeks. Typing blog posts from the mobile app while holding two babies and chasing a toddler- forgive the typos!! 

In Him, 

Meg 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Take a Breath

"Take a breath, don't forget, hang onto His promises..."
~Mandesa
Yesterday, I was driving and just felt so overwhelmed by some of the pieces of our adoption journey that I told Josh I felt like it was hard to breathe. Just the weight of the world on my chest, and I was not doing a very good job of managing that anxiety. I heard this song on K-Love, though, and the refrain just hit me like a sharp cool breeze to the face. I was reminded of ALL God promises us. He doesn't promise us more children, or a smooth ride, or no pain and heartache. He promises so much more- salvation, a home with Him forever, and the promise that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us. Even when our worldy anxiety is making us forget to take a breath, He doesn't falter. 
Adoption, I sometimes feel like, seems to draw a lot of type-A personality moms to it. I sometimes think its because God knows we will need that kind of organization to wade through the paperwork and process. And I sometimes think that it's because nothing in my life has challenged or stretched my type-A-ness like the road of adoption. I have several friends right now that I am talking to daily- we are all at different parts of our process, and all struggle with the need to know and control and have a grip on EVERYTHING. We actually discussed yesterday what time period is appropriate to wait between contacting our social workers. I mean, like, hours- not days or weeks. Like "Would you call again in the afternoon if you already did in the morning?" As if they have big secrets they are hiding from us! We know this is not true, of course. We trust our agencies (some of us use the same agency, and some of us are at different ones). I think sometimes we forget though that while OUR journey is the only one on our mind, they have dozens of children, and waiting families, and heartbreaking scenarios on their plate. 
Whatever part of the journey we are in- waiting for paperwork, waiting to hear back if an expectant mom chose us, waiting to hear if a child is coming into our home, waiting for the hearing that will finally make our child ours legally- it can take our breath away. We can forget His promises. We can forget that He says He will never leave us nor forsake us. 
I think I do even worse in the unknown this time around than I did during Eli's adoption.  Now, I have to think and weigh what this "unknown" will do to my son. How my stress affects him (it does, very visibly.) How another child or children will change his life. When that change will occur. Will we have to go out of town- how will he handle that? Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually. 
Another thing I didn't account for is that the wound of Eli's adoption- the heartache of the process- was not really healed. I thought it was but a faint scar on my heart, but turns out it just had a band-aid over it. When I hear about an expectant mom, the pain that Eli's birthmom has expressed to me bubbles to the surface. I wrestle in this dichotomy of being excited to add to our family, while feeling physically ill over what another mother is going through. Another thing that is just a hair's breath beneath the surface is that old fear of losing Eli. I can say with my mind that I respect a mom's right to choose adoption or parenting. I can tell you that I think PA's 30 day revocation period for birth parents to decide is a good thing. I can tell you that I do NOT think that every single mom in crisis should choose adoption. I believe all those things, and make sure to share those ideals with others we meet on this journey. That doesn't mean it wasn't terrifying during that month of parenting a child whom I didn't know if I would get to raise. That doesn't mean my heart still doesn't stop when I think about the afternoon we left week-old Eli at his birthmom's house while she spent some time with him to firm up her adoption decision. While she considered parenting him. I have felt anxious recently about Eli. Not that I have a fear that he is going anywhere. Not because of dramatic news cases like the "Baby Veronica" trial. Not because of Law & Order episodes where adoptions are dissolved 13 years down the road. I don't have fears like that. My anxiety about Eli is just remembering how tenuous an adoption decision is. How the fact that he was even given to us is miraculous, and could have changed in an instant. How blessed we are to have him. Will we be so blessed again? We are already the luckiest parents in the world. 
I don't pretend that our adoption journey is more difficult that anyone else's. We have met families who have been through the wringer. Foster care, international adoption, waiting for years upon years. We were blessed by our path to Eli, which was "easier" than a lot of adoptions (I don't think any adoption is easy, but if we are going to make a 1-10 scale of difficult journeys, we were probably at about a 3 or 4). I just know for us, in this season, it is hard. Trusting, not knowing, hearing about children and scenarios that would break your heart if we could share. People living in the same blessed country as us, but practically a world away. That's never easy. And as Christians, it shouldn't be. God wants to break our heart with what breaks His. 
And today, when I came up for a breath and felt some stress lift off me, I was able to look at our beautiful son playing in the leaves and realize it will all be worth it someday. His joy, the unfettered laughter that just overflows out of him, is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. My husband and I say to each other a dozen times a day "I just love him so much..." And while God doesn't promise us more children, we also believe when we trust Him and walk in faith, He fulfills the desires and calls He has placed on our hearts. 


In Him, 
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Still here!


Whoa, I haven't updated in awhile! We are all great, doing fine and enjoying fall. While I haven't been writing here, I have been working for some pieces for some other sites. Check out my new monthly column that will appear the first Friday of each month on Open Adoption Bloggers, entitled "Adoption Ever After."  The column focuses on post-adoption support and current trends in adoption.  

It's at www.openadoptionbloggers.com on the blog tab. I hope you check it out! 

I will also have a piece appearing in Adoption Voices Magazine and on New Leaf Wellness, which is a non-adoption site who would like to offer some advice on how to support adoptive families during November for National Adoption Month. 

As for our journey to expand our family, we are still plugging away, being stretched and changed by God in ways we weren't our first journey. We have encountered challenges, heartache, and been pulled into the stories of numerous children as we move along this path. We are hopeful soon that our stories will intersect with theirs in a way that we can share, and hopeful for God to add to our family. We are ever mindful that this joyful day will come at the loss of another family, and we ask you come alongside us in prayer for that. One thing that is different the second time you adopt- you can no longer be naive about the loss and heartache that the bio family will experience. You've already seen it first hand. 

We have been blessed by a fall that is full of lots of family time with our giggly, silly, loving toddler. Can you believe he will be TWO  this month?? 



In Him, 

Meg


Thursday, September 12, 2013

World's Easiest Chicken Pot Pie

I've been chatting over on Facebook about things I make and freeze. I don't do the whole "make a months worth at once" yet, it sort of overwhelms me...I'd like to try it, but it seems very ambitious! So, instead, whenever I am making something for dinner, I just double the recipe and freeze half once it's cooked. This doesn't require as much planning as a whole month at once. 
The easiest recipe to double (or triple!) is my best friend's mom's chicken pot pie recipe. It tastes absolutely amazing and seems like you worked really hard, but you didn't. And, it freezes awesomely and tastes the same a month later as it did fresh. Below is the ingredients for one, you can easily make up to four at a time. Its also great to give to moms who just had a baby, if they are nursing, cause it doesn't contain the ingredients I am told typically cause nursing problems. 
What to Buy:
A two-pack of frozen pie crusts (or whatever kind you like, but these are easy!) 
10oz bag frozen mixed veggies of your choice. I like peas, carrots, green beans, corn variety
1 jar of chicken gravy OR 1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup Bisquick
Chicken- I use frozen chicken tenderloins, about 5 per pie. You could use two chicken breasts also.
What to Do:
Cook the chicken and shred it in a big pot. I dump frozen tenderloins into a pot with about a cup of water and let them defrost and cook all at once. I shred with salad tongs and a mashed potato masher. You can shred in a mixer or by hand also. 
When the chicken is cooked, drain the water. 
Add the veggies, Bisquick, and can/jar of gravy or soup. Stir it up. If it seems a little clumpy add a dash of milk or water. Salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the mixture into one pie crust. Put the other pie crust on top and pinch the edges. Bake the pie according to package instructions. 
If you're making multiple pies, just double or triple what is in the pot so you still are using only one pot. Its easy!!
For freezing, I  wrap the pie in saran wrap. I then put the extra pie tin that you will have left over from making the top of the pie on top, to make sure the pie doesn't get crushed. I wrap this all in foil and label. It will keep about 3 months. 
And toddler tummies LOVE it!!

In Him, 
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