Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I want you to know... {Adoption and Fertility}

If you don't read Rage Against the Minivan, I highly encourage you to click over there now. I love the column What I Want You to Know and read it regularly. I recently read one that has stuck with me for two months: What I want you to know when having a family does not come easily. The woman writing shared her heart about infertility, miscarried adoptions, and heart-break.

My heart broke for her and her husband. She was experiencing a pain I didn't know anything about. Somehow I felt part of her pain.
It can be hard to hold in one hand the knowledge that I can never give birth to a child, and then to hold in my other hand those who adopt who can have biological children. I know they feel called too, but sometimes that scary voice of scarcity and lack lies to me and tells me that there will not be a baby for us because all the younger Fertile Myrtles are adopting them up! I never want to begrudge someone their family, but I also want one of my own. Adoption and infertility bring to light lots of places where I have to hold in tension things that feel opposite to me and trust that which I cannot understand. (source)
I am that "younger Fertile Mytrle" that chooses adoption. I've given birth to a biological child and feel called to adopt. I know that voice of scarcity because it speaks to me in the form of guilt. Why did we get a baby when there are lovely, deserving families who cannot have biological children? We are not better parents, more qualified, or somehow deserving. So why us? This question and guilt lives in direct tension with the knowledge that our baby girl is meant to be in our family. I feel so confident in our call to adopt and know that this child was placed with us, but wonder why we were chosen when we could have another child the "traditional" way.

Many stories of adoption are also stories of infertility. It is adoption month and this weekend is National Adoption Day. In honor of that celebration, I wanted to share my feelings about adoption and fertility. Infertility isn't part of our story. I feel guilty because of our successful infant adoption because it means I took a baby from someone who couldn't have one. I feel overwhelmed that we got this precious, perfect baby when other spend years, thousands of dollars, and painful treatments trying to get a baby. It all overwhelms my heart because I really want everyone who wants a baby to get a baby. I want to be like Oprah... "You get a baby! And you get a baby!!"
In the middle of that guilt, is the confident knowledge that Sister was meant to be part of our family. Her birth family was also meant to be part of our family. We needed them in our lives and have a unique relationship with them. The birth family relationship is crucial for us because of our open adoption. This is something I gave a great deal of thought and prayer for years prior to our adoption. I prayed for the family that would experience loss. I prayed we could bring them peace in a difficult and sad situation. I prayed for them specifically, knowing that for us to get a child, a mother would experience intense pain.
In our adoption situation, there are many folks that are affected by our daughter's adoption. Her birth mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, great aunts, friends, cousins, great grandmother, and other family had to change their relationship with this baby. They have experienced loss. They have put their trust in my family to give this baby everything we can. Our baby will always be part of them.

Even in closed adoptions, a relationship exists between the birth family and the adoptive family. There is a forever connection. There is a responsibility. I feel a strong sense of accountability to be the best mom for Sister because I owe her birth mom my very best. A birth family might never know how their child is doing, but the bond is still there. We pray for our birth family, talk about their love and sacrifice, and adore them for blessing our family with our daughter.

The relationship we have with our birth family is unique and I am confident in the fact that God brought us together with purpose. We have an opportunity to share love and grace with a family we might never have known. Our family fits together with their family in a way many others might not. We understand each other, have amazing things in common, and are sensitive to the depth of this situation.

I pray for those mamas who's arms are empty tonight. I pray you are chosen soon. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that God takes messes and makes them beautiful. I believe that God creates purpose out of chaos. I was not meant to give birth to Sister but I'm so thankful many chose our family to give her life.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DFW 3-day for the Cure 2014

This was my 8th 3-day for the Cure in 7 years. I cannot wrap my brain around that. That means I've raised somewhere near $20,000 and have walked literally 10,000 miles training. (That's a rough and probably low estimate!) Each year is different, but this one was the best in several years for many reasons. (And the worst for a very specific reason!)

First things first, I walked with my friend Susan. We walked together last year as well and I was thrilled and honored to have her as my teammate and walking buddy for 60 miles again. My sister, Courtney, did not walk. It was the worst walk ever for that reason. This was the first time in 5 year that we didn't walk together and it just wasn't the same without her. I'm so proud of her for following her dream of becoming a nurse and know she will come back to walking as soon as her schedule allows. Nursing school is HARD!

The weather was insanely gorgeous all weekend. I got some serious sun and Sunday morning was bitter cold, but other than that, I could not have ordered better weather. I thank God each year for such incredible weather. This year was the best I've ever experienced. Walking was delightful. It was a challenge, for sure, but I felt strong and capable nearly every single mile.

Opening Ceremony was awesome. It was very cold, very early, and a little chaotic for my family (wake an almost 3 year old up at 5am, strap him in the car for an hour, and let him out without freedom in the freezing cold...) but it was gorgeous. They've switched things up this year and I really loved all of the changes.
By 7:30am the route was open and we were off! If you've ever read an update from me before, you know that I like to stay towards the front of the pack. Because we were rested and it was cold, we walked fast, getting to lunch by 10:30am or so, still feeling really good. We ate lunch and were off again! The route was really great and the weather was perfect. The chill wore off and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Jarrod was in class all morning, so we hadn't seen any of our family since opening ceremony, but there were 3 cheering stations and lots of people out to support us!

We arrived back to camp around 2:30pm, after finishing just about 22 miles. My family was there and it was great to see them again!

We relaxed, visited the chiropractors, and enjoyed delicious cupcakes and snacks (a new addition to camp this year!). We left camp before dinner because the kids were just about done. We went back to the hotel, checked in, and got things situated. We cleaned up and Jarrod picked up dinner. After dinner, we began the fight of going to bed. We were all exhausted, but someone needed to stay up to feed sister and Wesley wasn't interested in going to sleep in the hotel room. Too bad he couldn't feed sister! :-) Eventually, after a lot of screaming, we all went to sleep around 9:30pm - alarms set for early early the next morning!

Our alarms went off, Wes woke up in a great mood, and we were off to camp! Our hotel was about 2.5 miles from camp, so Jarrod drove us back and forth...because he's awesome. It was much warmer on Saturday morning than we expected, so we left our jackets in the car. It was 50 degrees, not the 40 degrees we expected! We got breakfast and waited in line for the route to open.

While we waited, something delightful happened. One of my favorite parts of the 3-day is meeting new people and sharing stories.
On Saturday morning I was standing at the very front of the line with a delightful older woman. As we are chatting, I notice a button on her lanyard that says, "Everyone deserves a grandma!" I comment that I love that, thinking to myself how appropriate that is as I walk for a grandma I never met. As I'm looking at her button I catch her credential, the barcode we wear all weekend. It shows her name. Shirley. Tears well up in my eyes. My grandma's name was Shirley. I tell her this, share a picture of my Grandma Shirley, and we hug. We talk about her own battle with cancer and celebrate her two year cancer-anniversary, just two days prior. It was a holy moment. It was inspirational and all the reason I needed to keep walking all 21 miles that day. It reminded me that I walk so that I can be someone's grandma. And so that my daughter can know her grandbabies.  

We hit the trail and enjoyed a delightful morning walk. Jarrod and the kids met us at the first cheering station...with Aunt Courtney and Uncle Philip! It was seriously exciting to se my sister cheering and I know my kids loved having them around... I know Jarrod appreciated the help too! They followed us from cheering stations to lunch and it was great to look forward to seeing them again. We walked through a gorgeous park with a lake. The weather couldn't have been better. We were hurting, but it was gorgeous. We just kept walking.

Again we arrived back to camp around 2:30pm and rested. The chiropractor tent was absolutely incredible on Day 2. My hips were hurting and I wasn't sure how to make them better. I had a lot of trouble with my hips the year before (and every year since I walked when I was pregnant!) but hadn't found a good solution. This chiropractor was a miracle worker! He worked my my hips and neck and I left feeling better than I had all day! 

We visited with Courtney and Philip at camp before they took off and went back home. Jarrod and the kids met up with us and we ate dinner. After a delicious dinner, it was time to go back to the hotel. Once we got back, it was time for everyone to get cleaned up. Jarrod had to go to a party, so he left the kids with Susan and I. Thanks to technology, we were able to worship with my church family online. After that and a little Veggie Tales, we were off to bed! Daddy got home just in time to put to bed a very tired Wesley, feed a sleepy sister, and go to bed himself!

Sunday morning we took our things down to the car to help Jarrod out. He dropped us at camp and we grabbed breakfast before getting in line for the bus. On day 3 we are bused to a different location to begin the walk. It was incredibly cold and not very pleasant waiting for the bus. But we did it, got on the first bus, and got in line again to wait for the trail to open.

Once we were off, I walked fast. I was so cold that walking faster felt better than keeping a slower, more appropriate pace for 40+ miles in! After an hour or so I began to warm up and slow down. We were both hurting, but nothing compared to previous years, so we kept up a good pace. We stuck at 30-60 people from the front for the majority of the weekend. It was a great pace and we met some wonderful people. It also was fantastic because things weren't as crowded as they can be further back in the crowd.

We walked through North Dallas and into Downtown Dallas. The route changed slightly this year and I enjoyed the changes. We got to lunch and enjoyed time resting our feet. We were just about 5 miles to closing at lunch and knew we could make it!

Right around 1pm, we arrived at Fair Park, the location of closing ceremony! 60 miles DONE! We felt good - sore but really good. We rested, cheered in walkers, and even got to witness a proposal!
We had a chance to rest briefly before my family met up with us! My husband hasn't been to closing worship in several years and he's never been there early enough to visit with me before walking in. It was so great to relax with them for a little while. Our teammates made it back as well and we were so excited to visit with them. Sadly, we missed our opportunity for a team picture! Our feet were too sore to make that much effort. :-)
Closing Ceremony was especially moving for me this year. Adding a daughter to my family has changed my perspective. I know men get breast cancer too, but the odds are better for women to get it... After having Wesley, I thought about his wife while I walked. (If he chooses to marry a woman!) I prayed she'd never know breast cancer. I pray she'll know her grandchildren. Now I make that prayer for Eloise. I never knew my grandmother and she never knew my kids. Everyone deserves a grandma and I missed out on one. I'll keep walking for my babies, my babies' babies, and their babies too.

I'm already signed up to walk again next year. Team Walkin' Sista-tas is registered and ready to go. If you've ever considered walking, I encourage you to sign up today. Registration is just $35 until 12/4/14. If you register today, you'll have a whole year to fundraise the minimum $2,300 - that's less than $200/month! Don't want to walk? Consider making a donation today to help me meet my fundraising goal. Every little bit helps. I'll continue to walk so that everyone can have a grandma.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One Quarter of a Year!

Sister turned 4 months old this past weekend. I have been taking monthly pictures, like I did with Wesley, but I haven't shared any of them with you!

Her first month was a whirlwind. It was bittersweet, joyful, and some of the most beautiful days of my life. We were down to one car so I spent a lot of time home with both kids. I also spent a lot of time thanking God for the incredible gift of this precious baby girl.

The first month with sister was glorious. I loved having a baby at home, enjoyed my time with her at home, and just spent time loving her. It was somewhat stressful with adoption business, but we focused all of our attention in loving this precious baby for as long as we could.

Month 2 began with a bang - a long trip to Louisiana and Austin with our dearest friends. Sister was a champion traveler. She took everything in stride and was such an easy-going infant! She loved getting to know her "cousins" and meeting some of our favorite people. Once we arrived home, she began physical therapy for torticollis. Initially I was skeptical that there was a need, but we adore her physical therapist and are enjoying learning new stretches that we can do with her at home.

Month 3 included one of the best days of my life - adoption day!! I also went back to work this month...and quit my job! Sister continues to grow and amaze us. She's continuing to thrive at school, physical therapy, and home. She absolutely adores her big brother and we're so in love with her!

She's been smiling for weeks, but month four brought the most beautiful sound we've heard - Sisters laughter! She's a gorgeous baby girl and so happy. She goes with the flow and fits in perfectly with our family. 

I cannot believe we're more than a quarter of the way through her first year! I made her 6 month doctor's appointment for the same day at Wesley's 3 year check-up. How is that even possible? Time definitely is going by very quickly, but we are enjoying (nearly!) every moment! 
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