Sunday, October 11, 2015

Check Out Our Puzzle

It has been a few a weeks since we’ve updated our adoption blog. We thought we’d fill you all in on what’s happening. First, Eliana is growing like crazy (as you’ve likely seen in some FB pictures). She is wearing 6-9 month clothes comfortably and weighed in at 17 lbs 2 oz Friday at her 4-month check up (putting her in the 92nd percentile). She is discovering her voice and is thinking about rolling over. Parenthood is a lot of work but a lot of fun.

In the months leading up to Eliana’s arrival, our focus was split between reading books about parenting and fundraising for her adoption. On both fronts we’ve come a long way. People have been so generous throughout the entire process too. So many things were given to us and so many people have stepped in and supported us with their time and resources. Between individuals donating, adoption grants, and our own contributions we’ve been able to raise 71% of the adoption costs! For that we want to say thank you. We’re blown away by your generosity. 

A few months back, a family member designed this puzzle as part of our fundraising efforts. The idea was that each piece would represent a dollar amount we needed to come up with to fund our adoption. As you can see we’re mostly done but have a little left. We can’t wait to reveal the finished product, but there is also a message on the back of the puzzle. We want to write the names of people and organizations that have helped fund Eliana’s adoption. The puzzle will be a visual representation of others helping us put our family together.

Consider this post the beginning of our final fundraising push. In the spirit of full disclosure there are still a couple grants/scholarships we’ve applied for but have not heard back from. But the remaining 29% you see here is roughly $8,200. It is hard to ask for more money because it feels like we’re not being grateful enough for what’s already been given. We are very grateful. But throughout this entire process we’ve tried to be very honest about things on this blog and in person.

That said, this outstanding debt is a bit of a burden, as many people understand. We’ve been chipping away at it monthly since we got back from New York but our agency expects us to pay our balance off sooner rather than later to cover operating costs for other adoptions. They’ve been working with us as well to come up with fundraising ideas.

3 ways to give:
1.  Check out our You Caring page. This page will be the main tally for what we still owe. (2.9% goes to a processor’s fee)
2. Make checks payable to Bethany Christian Services and indicate the donation is for Adam and Lauren Dolson.  The address is 901 Eastern Avenue NE, PO BOX 294, Grand Rapids, MI. 49501. (It is important to note that since money is going specifically to our account, there is no tax deduction.)
3. Send us funds directly. Inbox us if you want to do this and we’ll send you our address.

Again, we are so grateful for all that everyone has given us up to this point. We’ve been overwhelmed with your prayers, financial support, time and for helping us welcome Eliana into our family. It is hard to even ask for more and please do not feel obligated. We promise to keep you updated as the weeks go by and to keep posting pictures of our beautiful girl!

Thank you for reading
Adam, Lauren and Eliana

Monday, August 17, 2015

Eliana's Story

Life has been crazy busy lately, with a newborn baby and all, so I am sorry it has taken us so long to share the details of how we were matched with Eliana. We held off from posting many details about it because when we were matched to a birthmother there were certain factors that were risky and we did not really know if this whole situation would pan out. All we could do at the time was pray. But Eliana is with is now, so if you have a few minutes today, here is our adoption story!
In late April, we received a call from our social worker telling us a birthmother from New York had seen our online profile and was interested in us. We were one of three families she was considering for adoption. This came as a total shock to Adam and I because never in last several months did anyone ever find our online profile and show any interest—and certainly not in another state! The usual drill is that we would receive in state “circulars” about potential adoption situations sharing the birth family’s history, health, and their wishes for adoption. We would then read through it and choose whether to be thrown into the pool of other people saying yes to this situation. This particular situation was so drastically different because a birthmother was seeking us out, she found us, and from New York nonetheless! At the time we were already in the top three for another adoption situation. To top that off, earlier that day we learned news that we received a great deal of money from friends that helped us get a matching grant all towards our adoption expenses. That day was so crazy because our adoption seemed to go from zero to 60. That day, I really knew that God was doing something huge.
            A couple days later we learned that the other adoption situation that we were in the top three for was no longer a possibility. The birth family chose another family, which was still hard for us. We were used to this feeling. In the year we were waiting for a baby we were in the top three seven times! We were still hopeful about the New York situation, and to be honest this situation always intrigued us the most because it was so drastically different than all the other local situations.
The next day, on April 30 I received a call from our social worker telling us that the New York birthmother chose us! She was due with a baby girl June 23, and she wanted to meet us soon! Getting that much-anticipated phone call was so amazing! I was babysitting at the time with kids I nannied for and we were at the playground. I just remember pacing around the playground on the phone, pinching myself to make sure it was actually true! As amazing as the news was I was still paralyzed by fear. The distance scared me. There were a few legal matters in this case that scared me, and the possibility of the birth mom changing her mind loomed in the back of my head.
Everything in me wanted to call Adam while he was at work and tell him the amazing news but I refrained because I wanted to see his face in person. I picked him up from work that day and I just remember him looking at me and saying, “you’re really smiley today.” When I told him the news he was in disbelief. I told him I was serious that we were finally chosen and he was so excited! On the ride home we both began to call our close family and friends to tell them the good news. People were ecstatic for us! There were many tears shed, and we went out that night to celebrate!
            Adam and I made plans a few days later to travel to New York that next week and meet the birthmother. We made the long trek to New York on May 9, filled with excitement, nervousness, and uncertainty. We really received very little information about the birthmother and her situation and so we didn’t know what to expect. We prayed so hard for that meeting.  I can honestly say I have never been so nervous in my whole life.
Before the meeting we drove around the city trying to calm our nerves and we prayed a lot! The meeting went so well with the birthmother and so many of our questions and concerns were answered! We connected with the birthmother so much and we instantly felt connected to her and her family. There were very specific prayers that we prayed that were answered during that meeting, and we again were feeling so excited and thankful! We left New York feeling very confident and excited!
The weeks that followed the meeting were filled with a crazy mix of emotions. There were still certain legal matters that were red flags in our minds, but Adam and I decided long ago to just say, “yes” to this situation. There were days when fear gripped my heart so tightly and I would have dreams of all of this falling through. Every time Adam and I would begin to go through these feelings of fear and uncertainty we would pray—very bold specific prayers—and sure enough the very next day, we would receive news that calmed our fears.
We began to make preparations for having a baby in our home, which strangely enough had been put aside for so long because we were so focused on adopting. We painted her nursery, bought a few baby items, painted some furniture, and just eased into this idea. Deep down we were both scared to go crazy and buy tons and tons of baby things (even though we wanted to). It felt so strange to see that nursery door always open—we kept it closed for a long time—and to see baby things multiply every day. We were so thankful, so prayerful, and really just waiting for the birth mom to go into labor.
And then came the text—three weeks early! We received the text at 2:30 AM June 2 informing us that the birthmother was in early active labor! We were again thrown for a loop, but we had been praying that baby girl would be born early, and sure enough she was on her way. We packed liked zombies in the middle of the night and by some miracle we were on the road by 3:30 AM Tuesday morning. That drive seemed to take forever! We were pretty much prepared with the basics for having a new baby, but because she was early we had not nailed down living arrangements once we were in New York. We had a few options fall through and it was nerve-wracking trying to find something. We knew that once the baby was born we would have to stay in New York for at least two weeks to clear up legal matters, get papers signed, and for interstate paperwork to be cleared.  We journeyed closer and closer and this baby girl was really on her way!
We got to New York and the first thing we did was buy a car seat. There was a baby shower in Michigan planned for that coming weekend, and we had banked on getting a car sear then. The baby had other plans and the shower happened regardless (We made a Skype appearance). We checked into a hotel in New York and waited until we had the green light to come to the hospital. This waiting was very hard for us. It was the hospital that made me the most nervous. Emotions are highest, the labor is always hard, and we knew the baby would be beautiful. We finally received a text later that day saying that baby girl was born at 4:48 PM, weighing 7 lbs 5 oz and was 20 inches long.
We received a call a few hours later telling us we could come and see her. We were so overjoyed! Driving to the hospital that evening was so unbelievable! We did not know what to expect. This was the moment we had been anticipating for so long, and we knew we had to be sensitive to the birth family. When we arrived at the hospital we found everyone there in high spirits and genuinely happy. When we looked at and held our beautiful baby girl for the first time, she really did take our breath away. She was so perfect in every way, and she was here! It was such a fine balance to be excited and also to be sensitive to the birth family. We stayed at the hospital until visiting hours were up and then headed back to our hotel on cloud nine.
The next morning I woke up consumed with fear. Fearful, because we were not at the hospital (like we originally thought we could be, but the hospital would not allow us to) and we had no idea what was going on. We were waiting on the birth family to give us the green light to come and visit again, and we were not getting any new information. This morning was by far the hardest day for me. It took all my strength not to run to the hospital and hold our baby girl, but I knew it was not my place.  We rehearsed what we knew: the birth mother had a meeting that day with the social worker at 11:00 A.M. and as far as we knew, she was following through with the adoption. Instead of being over-bearing and nosey, we decided to wait until after 1:00 PM before we called anyone.
We spent time in prayer and in the Word that morning, just trying to be in the moment without getting overwhelmed. We had not heard any bad news and God had led us to this point. I will never forget how I felt getting ready that day. My heart was so fearful and scared and I was praying all day. Then all of a sudden, as if in a soft whisper, I could hear God say “she is going to be yours, trust in me”.  I did not know what to do so Adam suggested we get lunch. As we pulled up to the restaurant, the phone rang. It was the New York social worker. She reassured us that the adoption was still moving forward and the birth family just wanted a day with the baby and some visitors. Thank you, Lord. It was 1:00 PM.
We made a wise choice and decided to escape into nature for the afternoon. We knew there was nothing we could accomplish waiting all day at the hotel. So we got in the car and drove up into the mountains. We spent the afternoon talking about baby names and appreciating some of the most amazing waterfalls in the country. It was what we needed. This was also the day we nailed down our long-term housing arrangement. A church connection with the birth family found an attic apartment for us to rent out short term. It was close to where we needed to be and in a quiet country community. Little did we know that this apartment would be our home for the next five weeks.
On Thursday, June 4, we drove to the hospital in the afternoon with the car seat. Once again, we found ourselves feeling pulled separate directions emotionally and unsure about how to act. The plan was for mother and baby to be discharged that afternoon, and we would take the baby with us. I was still slightly afraid of leaving with an empty car seat, the image taunting me for weeks leading up to this moment. We prayed before going inside and again, God showered grace on the whole situation. We spent time with the birth family, watched the baby get changed and took lots of pictures. On the way back to our apartment, Adam stayed in the slow lane.
Eliana came home from the hospital a very healthy baby. There were some minor concerns about her coloring and her birth weight so we would end up going to her pediatrician every few days for them to weight her until she gained her birth weight back. The first three days with her were a little difficult, as any first-time parent understands. We took turns waking up to feed her and Adam changed a diaper for the first time. After switching her onto a formula that agreed with her belly and after she settled into life with us, things really began to feel normal. She even made an appearance at her baby shower in Jackson (via Skype).
Besides caring for a newborn baby, our time in New York was focused around the legal process and trying to focus on something besides the legal process. What I mean is that adoption tends to be a long process that requires patience. In our case alone, we had a Michigan case worker from our adoption agency, a New York case worker from the same agency, an attorney representing the birth family, each state’s Department of Human Services, and, because it was an inner-state adoption, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). Each entity had to be in communication with the others, ensuring that all the right papers, laws and requirements were being addressed appropriately. We felt immersed in red tape. On top of that, Adam was still making sure his employer had everything they needed to approve his paternity leave, which of course was complicated because this was a pending adoption. We had to occupy ourselves.
We forced ourselves out of the house everyday to alleviate the cabin fever, and found that update New York is an amazingly beautiful place. We visited state parks, waterfalls, lakes, arboretums, a bird sanctuary and a local Ivy League school’s campus. In our neighborhood, we took walks, talked with neighbors and walked to get ice cream. Adam was able to go on runs too. We saw a few storms come through and managed to go to church as a family. Life was simple in the day to day, and we really appreciated that we were able to spend so much time with our baby. On top of that, we got to know the birth family better and spent time with them.
There was one particular legal matter that was holding the process up however. Without sharing more details, we knew this was a crucial step and that the adoption could not continue without it being resolved. Additionally, we would not be able to sign any placement papers until this issue was resolved. Eliana was technically in the placement of our adoption agency at this time, but since they had conducted a home study with us, they were able to place the baby in our temporary care until the placement for adoption was approved. Lastly, the ICPC would not allow us to leave the state until the baby was legally placed in our care for adoption. New York was an amazing place and God had placed us in a family of believers; but we still wanted to be home.
The waiting and apparent lack of progress did wear on us, but every time we started to lose hope, we would get a visitor. Someone from the birth family’s church would stop by with a meal and pray with us. Adam’s brother and sister-in law drove out to see us for a weekend. My dad met us in another city and put us up in a hotel for a few days. People Skyped with us and called. Adam’s parents came out and rented a house for a week. A couple from our Bible study happened to be passing through the area on a family vacation and met us for breakfast. Seeing familiar faces and just how much everyone cared for us was absolutely the thing that kept us going. Eliana was loved by so many, very early.
Getting to know the birth family was also a very special and important part of our time in New York. We were taken in as part of the family and shared several meals together. They brought us food, told us about fun things to do in the area and showed Eliana so much love. In a difficult situation like this one, you never know what to expect, but they were so gracious and Christ-like with us. We do consider them family now, in more ways than one.
 After more than a month in New York, the last legal issue was finally resolved and we were ready to signs some papers. We were able to sign the placement papers on Wednesday, June 24 and our application to leave the state with Eliana was sent to Albany the same day. Once it was approved, Eliana would legally be in our care and her case would be a pending adoption. On Thursday and Friday we heard very little and knew that nothing would be processed over the weekend. We spent one last weekend in New York, knowing that we would be approved the following week. It was a great time to reflect on how much God had done in New York, both in providing for us and in teaching us how to wait. We started saying our goodbyes and packing things up. On Monday morning, around 9:00 AM, the New York case worker texted Adam, “You guys are good to go.”  We cleaned the apartment and were on the road back to Michigan by Noon.
In the seven weeks we have been back home in Grand Rapids, we have adjusted to life with a baby. Adam spent a week at home before returning to work, and I stay home with Eliana. She had her two-month visit last week and has nearly doubled her birth weight!
We reflect often on our time in New York but even more so, the entire waiting process from the beginning. For us, the process of adoption started with a lot of heartbreak. Throughout this blog we have not sugarcoated things because that would not benefit anyone and would rob this story of any real-life value. Many of the friends we’ve met along the way are still waiting to adopt, and some have experienced much harder things. There are no easy explanations, we’ve learned, but God is with us in the journey. In him we have found a friend who mourns with us, not a bully who taunts us. We’ve found a caring Father. He’s taught us that life and family are more than just things we’re supposed to enjoy but that they are supposed to be enjoyed in him and are a part of his great story, his redemption story. In him we celebrate the life of Eliana Joy Esperanza Dolson and say with a greater perspective than before:
“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
Psalm 16:5-6

Thank you very much for reading, praying, writing, calling, texting, giving, supporting and encouraging us in the past two years. We have at least one more blog post coming once the adoption is finalized. Thanks again!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Something More

Hey Friends,

Thank you for taking a moment to read about our adoption journey today. Lauren and I have just come back from a retreat at the beginning of this month and are feeling very refreshed. A ministry from our church here in Grand Rapids designed the weekend to be educational, relaxing, and supportive for foster care and adopting families.

Lauren and I packed our bags and headed to Holland after work on Friday. What we experienced was incredible. First of all, an anonymous donor stepped up before the retreat and covered the cost for all the families attending so that we did not have to pay a dime. When we got there, volunteers from Crossroads’ ministry Abba’s Answer had made preparations for the entire weekend. We were greeted in our room with letters, books, a care package and gifts. The keynote speaker was an in-demand therapist from the area who specializes in reactive attachment disorder and who regularly counsels families who care for kids with trauma. On Saturday night, some folks from our church came out and created a candle-lit dessert experience along with some entertainment, an improv group from the local college.  We had numerous conversations with new and old friends about adoption and foster care and learned so much. We left on Sunday afternoon feeling very supported. The retreat reminded us that we are not alone in our adoption journey. We just want to say thank you to those of you who made this weekend happen.

There is a story in the Bible that has come up a lot for us recently and we’ve been wanting to share it with you all. Jesus’ disciple John tells a story about a man they meet along the way who is blind (John 9). We’re never given his name but we know this man was born blind and consequently has to beg in his hometown to survive. He encounters Jesus one day and the question is asked: “…who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The question reveals a paradigm where God punishes evil by inflicting hardship.  His physical handicap is only the result of something he or his parent’s did. The struggle he is experiencing is directly related to the choices he made. He got what was coming to him and we should not pity him because he brought this on himself. Karma.

Under this view, God only blesses those who behave well. Those of us who do right and who love God can expect good lives, our health, enough money, safety, and the absence of horrible hardships. God only smites the wicked with this stuff.

This is a loaded question they asked.

Jesus’ response must have surprised them: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

In his answer, Jesus is displacing karma with an accurate view of God, man, and the state of the world. Had this blind man sinned in his life? Sure. Had his parents? Yes. But the simplistic view of God as a petty score keeper, eager to show his disapproval, is not reality. Nor is the idea that man’s individual actions will determine how blessed or difficult his life is.

There is something more going on here. And Jesus hints at it before he acts next. This man was born blind…that the works of God might be displayed in him. Underlining this story is the reality of the state of the world—brokenness. To say that things are broken is to say that, even though God created the world and oversees it, the world does not function as it should. Work is hard. Disasters happen. Relationships fail. People die. Power is abused. People are born with handicaps. We are all subject to feel the brokenness of the world in different ways. Sometimes we bring consequences upon ourselves, but other times, it just happens to us. What did this man do to be born blind? Nothing. It is the seemingly random consequence of living in a broken world. But herein lies the beauty of Jesus’ response. Out of this unfortunate reality you were born into, God is going to work.

You may know what happens next. Jesus spits on the ground, makes a little mud and puts it on the blind man’s eyes. He commands the man to go wash, and he comes back seeing! By giving this man physical and spiritual sight, Jesus proves what he has just said about himself: “I am the light of the world.”

Lauren and I have at times exhausted ourselves with questions. Why do we have infertility? How did this happen and how can we fix it? Why is adoption so hard? So expensive? So slow? Why us? Our questions carry a speculation and uncertainty that rings throughout to the disciples’ question—who sinned? At the end of the day, there is no good answer for these questions besides brokenness. Bad things happen. But after 32 months of trying to start a family, we’re only just beginning to see the extent to which God can redeem our broken situation. People have said we’re an encouragement to them. Couples in the same situation have come to us for guidance. Really? Us? But we don’t have the answers. I’m beginning to think that grieving people really don’t want answers. Just hope. Hope that there is a way forward. Hope that they are not alone in their darkness. Hope that God is not mean or apathetic. Hope that their faith is worth something and can survive this reality they’re facing.

One of the speakers at this retreat last week called us heroes. A bit of an overstatement, I thought at the time. He went on to explain himself. He said that we’re heroes because we’re taking what is God’s and reclaiming it for him. God made everything and God makes babies, he said. So these babies, like everything, belong to God. And when we take them in and care for them, we’re showing that we respect and honor and value the one who made them. Isn’t that what Christians do though? Isn’t that what our lives are about? We reclaim what is God’s in spite of brokenness. To be clear, we're not heroes. All along, I’ve thought adoption was a way for Lauren and I to start a family, but that’s not all. Apparently, there is a bigger picture I’m not seeing. There is something more going on here and it has to do with God's care for his creation. 

Thanks for reading,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Joy in the Journey

So it has really been forever since we have updated. We have not had a working computer for several months and that was part of the lack of updates. However, we are back in business again and hopefully we will be much better at keeping everyone updated with where we are at in the adoption process.

So much has happened since the summer, and yet, nothing has happened all at the same time. We have had our name in for a number of babies since July all of which resulting in us not being chosen in the end. We have come very close two times since the summer, being in two separate birth mothers’ top choices. To say the adoption journey is a roller coaster ride is such an understatement. We have had times of great anticipation and hope and times of complete disappointment and hurt. It is often hard to come back down to normal life after the emotional high of picturing life with a child and having it be within our grasp but then feeling like we have to “start over” again.

At this point in our adoption journey we have had about 25-30 adoption situations before us. Few of which we chose not to say yes to, due to many hard circumstances, The majority of them we have said yes to, yet have not been chosen. Currently, we do not have our name in for any babies, which is hard. Surprisingly, our hearts have peace.

With it being a new year, I was forced to reflect on 2014 and really think about what this year has been for us. My immediate thought is that 2014 was probably the hardest year for us yet. And while that is true in many ways, I can honestly say that though it was hard, it produced the most growth in me as well. This year our faith was stretched and tested. We were broken and shattered at times. I must have asked God “why?” a thousand times. I also must have questioned whether he heard us, saw us, and cared about us hundreds of times. I questioned his kindness, his goodness, his might and strength again and again. And while many times I felt as though God was silent and that he wasn’t present, I know now that is totally not the case. I am finally realizing that God cares so much more about growing me closer to himself and molding me into the image of Christ than giving me what I want. Not only that, but through this period of waiting, he’s showing me so much more about myself that probably would not be revealed any other way. He has shown me how my identity was so tightly wrapped up in becoming a mom and how my thinking was so skewed—“I’ll be happy when we have a baby…” But I am realizing, what happens next? What about when we do have a baby. What will be my next “I’ll be happy when…” statement. That thinking is a never ending cycle of being dissatisfied in my current situation and thinking the next thing will make me happy which is a lie.

I also have just been learning so much about who God actually is and how he relates to us. For so long God felt so far away, like a distant person who is almost cruel in his dealings with us. And in my wrestling with God over and over, he has revealed that this is not the way things should be. Infertility was not his original plan. God did not design the world to be a broken place. He did not wish for his children to endure pain and suffering. God’s plan for this earth was that of joy, and order, and beauty, and satisfaction between man and the Creator. But because of the fall, all of creation suffers. All along, God has wanted me to embrace him in this, to let him comfort me through this, and not hold him at a distance. This seems like such basic stuff, but for me it has really shattered my own little world of disappointment and dealing with grief.

This adoption journey has definitely felt like an uphill battle sometimes. Some days I feel like all I am doing is falling down over and over again and the goal is nowhere in sight. However, I know that I don’t have to run this race alone. I can feel God strengthening me in his word and giving me grace to continue on in this race. I know this journey is deeply shaping my character. And for that I am incredibly thankful. When I look at who I was in 2014 to who I am now, I feel like I cannot even recognize that person anymore. God has made me into a fighter- I feel like I can look back at the hill I have already climbed and I feel such confidence knowing I have come this far. And that confidence gives me greater strength and endurance to keep pressing on and running this race like never before with my eyes fixed ahead. I have so much anticipation and joy at how far I’ve come. I know that He has not given up on me. I know that he is there with me leading me and guiding me and stilling my anxious heart with his still small voice.

 A passage of Scripture that really speaks to my heart is Psalm 30.

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night but JOY comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth
And clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dare to Hope

It has been a very long time since we have updated our blog. As much as I would like to say that it is because life has gotten in the way (while that is partly true), the fact of the matter is that it has been hard. For us moving forward from the paperwork stage into the waiting stage has been a crazy whirlwind, and a roller coaster already. Adam and I officially began waiting May 2. Within that first week we received a “circular” email from our adoption agency, telling us information about a potential adoption situation. How these situations work for us is that our agency sends out emails to “waiting” adoptive parents that have information about birthparents wishing to set up an adoption plan for their child. We then read through a fairly lengthy description of both birthparents and we choose to either submit our profile to each family or not. With each circular comes the question of "how many other waiting adoptive families received this same email?" And so with each circular comes a great amount of uncertainty.

Receiving our first adoption circular sent a crazy surge of emotions through me. It was crazy to read about real birthparents and think that this could be it. This could be our baby. All these months of planning and dreaming this could be it! But, as quickly as those thoughts entered my mind an even more intense feeling of anxiety, doubt, fear, and just denial came over me. Almost like a “snap out of it” sort of feeling. How could we be chosen so quickly? What was so special about us? How many other families are waiting too and received this same email? Why would we stand out to anyone, really? Adam and I quickly responded with a resounding “YES!” email to our caseworker and left it at that. Weeks passed by slowly. And eventually all those “dreamy” thoughts began to fade. And then more circular emails began to come pour in! In a matter for just a few weeks we had  a “YES” response in for 5 babies.
I could hardly believe it. 5 babies! The odds seemed pretty good. We began to think, "maybe this is going to happen much sooner than we anticipated. Maybe all the people that told us the wait is long, and hard, or maybe those crazy stories you read about adoptive parents waiting like a week or a month, maybe that will be our story." 

And then something crazier happened. Our case worker called us and told us that a birthmom had taken our profile book and home study report home and that we were in her top 4 for potential adoptive parents for her already born son! That news came as a shock to us. Questions began to fill our heads, "What if we are parents in a few short days? We don’t even have half of the supplies we need. What if she chooses us?" We had a quick moment of laughing and excitement-very suddenly interrupted by the ever looming feeling of doubt, fear, and anxiety (at least in my mind).A few days later (which felt like an eternity!) We were sent an oh so empathetic (sarcasm here) “sorry she chose someone else"email. 

My immediate reaction was almost a “duh” response. Of course she chose someone else. This is our story, this is what happens with us always! The moment we dare to hope, the second we dare to think “what if”---reality seems to smack us dead in the face and bring us back down from dreamland. Every negative pregnancy test, every failed attempt at conceiving, and every "no" response seemed to hit me like a ton of bricks in that moment. Days passed and slowly the “sorry, but she chose someone else” emails have been coming in and some adoption cases are still pending. As of right now, Adam and I have yet to receive another adoption circular in over a month. 

What this "waiting" stage has revealed to me is that I am absolutely terrified of dreaming. Every dreamy thought that seems to cross my mind about our future child comes crashing down by fear and doubt and just the disappointment I have felt for almost 2 years. 
The part that makes it so hard is that we are in this exciting phase of life waiting on our baby, it could realistically be any day, and I can't bear the thought. Other people have given us a number of baby items at this point and most days I keep them locked away with the door shut tight because it really is just too hard for me to look at them every day. Other people are also beginning to get excited for us and ask us things like " oh have you started to decorate the nursery yet?" Or questions like, "so, are you getting excited?" And honestly I usually give positive answers in reply- but in reality I'm scared to hope. 

Adam and I have been reading a book together called "Adoption After Infertility" which talks about this very hesitancy in adoptive parents. Not wanting to be too hopeful because of the continual painful letdowns. But the author also talks about the importance for adoptive parents to experience a phase of "physiological pregnancy". A phase in which adoptive parents mentally and physically in a lot of ways prepare themselves for their babies- a nesting period. Pregnant women go through this phase naturally in pregnancy but for us, this phase feels awkward. Every now and then I have a sudden surge of emotions to be prepared, but then the fact that there is no baby in sight changes everything. Some days I feel so misplaced. So just out of the loop. So many women have gotten pregnant, had their babies, and some have even gotten pregnant again since we have been going through this whole process. Now that we are finally at the "pregnancy" stage and it feels like its finally our turn- not seeing a light at the end of tunnel- or not seeing a growing belly changes everything. The reality that there is a baby out there for us does not seem real. 
So that leaves us at this point. This waiting stage has taken me yet another level deeper in my faith. It has brought me to a point of losing even more control. At this point, Adam and I can do absolutely nothing to "prove" ourselves worthy to be parents. All we can do is sit back, wait, and pray. Pray to the One who is the only hope we have. To the only One who will ever be enough. To the only One who IS OUR HOPE.
I know that one day soon, I am going to look back at this infertility/ waiting journey and be so thankful. There have been so many glimpses of God's grace already, I cannot even imagine looking back on this when all the pieces of the puzzle are together and bask in Gods goodness to us. He has brought us this far, I KNOW he will not leave us here. And so we press on, and we pray like crazy when fear begins to creep in and steal our joy.

Tonight, I opened up the door to our soon to be nursery, and I opened up a bag filled with tiny onesies. And I dreamed without fear.

A verse that has spoken volumes to us lately is Psalm 112:6-8:
"For the righteous will NEVER be moved;
He will be remembered forever.
He is NOT afraid of bad news;
His heart is FIRM, TRUSTING in the Lord.
His heart is STEADY, he will NOT be afraid,
Until he looks in TRIUMPH on his adversaries."