Friday, July 31, 2009

sweet comfort food

I love sweet things.

Ice cream with its creamy taste and texture. Best with crunchy chunks of chocolate or nuts…or both.

Chocolate that melts in your mouth. Paired with hazelnut or mint. And none of that waxy cheap chocolate but the kind that leaves you satisfied knowing you have had the very best.

Schmoo torte with delicate cakey layers, fluffy real whipped cream, and sweet caramel sauce drizzled over every square inch.

Chewy chocolate chip cookies right from the oven. Warm and buttery, oozing with melted chocolate.

All these foods provide comfort. An instant feeling of warmth and goodness that seeps through your body. Feelings associated with memories of good friends and special events.

Lately I have indulged in some of these sweet comfort foods. I normally try to stay away from processed sugar but I’ve been feeling entitled to indulge. After a recent dinner out with a friend, she asked if I wanted to go for gelati. It took me about 2 seconds to make up my mind. YES! I told her about a fabulous gelati establishment just down the road and off we went. I so carefully picked my flavor considering this was not a treat I allowed myself very often. After a great deal of difficulty and numerous samples, I settled on mint chocolate. As soon as the first spoonful of gelati hit my mouth my taste buds started to buzz. Yum! It really is amazing how good food heightens the senses when you allow yourself to truly savor and enjoy each bite.

But alas, this feeling of instant gratification quickly dissipates. Each spoonful brings me closer to an empty container. And then the sadness returns. The comfort and “take all the hurt away” kind of feeling offered by good food is only temporary. It does nothing to satisfy the soul and heal the wounds. If only a band-aid and kiss would still work. Then I could run off and play again.

Instead I will continue to search for the answers to the questions contained in my very confused heart. And this process just might need to include another trip or two to the gelati shop…

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

what i know best

I'm back to what I know best.


I hate the waiting.

I try to convince myself that it doesn't matter. That the unknown doesn't wear me down day after day.

The two days we spent with A, her mom, and the unborn baby were so amazing that it all felt like a dream. Was it? On June 30th we woke up. It almost feels like that whole experience never happened. Although I do have pictures and foot prints of a baby to prove we really were there. But everything feels very hazy. My memory of those 4 days will never fade but my feelings about what happened and if it will every happen again are all fuzzy and muddled.

Will someone ever choose us again? Or was this whole family thing just a pipe dream right from the beginning? A dream that for us will never become a reality.

I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts and feelings on adoption, waiting, our future, etc. I feel very little hope. I don't think I really believe that a baby will be in our future -- especially now after what happened with A's baby. Yes, the paperwork says it could be. Yes, there are people working with our profile. But now when I walk by the baby room I don't think about what will be in the future, I think about what will never be.

Until you walk this road it's a hard one to explain and understand. I thank God that there are people in my life who really get it. Women who have been here in this same place, who know how to be supportive, who I can lean on. You know who you are. Thank you.

Maybe the waiting will be easier if I continue to live with little hope. This sounds so over dramatic and pathetic but moving forward with little hope protects my heart. Perhaps then I can move on and just live life not always wondering if I will be a mom by Thanksgiving, by Christmas, by next year, etc. I will try to have no expectations of parenthood in the future so that I'm not disappointed time and time again when that reality does not come to pass.

In the end, regardless of how I look at it, I will continue to live and breathe adoption daily.

The waiting sucks.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

my healing couches

Shortly after arriving home from our heartbreaking time away D and I started our daily movie date. D had a couple of movies available on his computer and one night he asked me if I wanted to watch as well. Since I needed a distraction I agreed, but asked that we watch upstairs in bed because the laptop screen was so small. He insisted I come downstairs. I sighed loudly (this is quite common these days!) and slowly trudged down the stairs. As I got closer to the main floor I planned my attack, I was not happy about coming downstairs and was still hoping to change his mind.

I turned the corner into the living room, opened my mouth…

And a giggle escaped.

I found our couches were moved so that they were side by side in front of the computer that was hooked up to our stereo. How fun! I grabbed a cozy blanket and snuggled into my designated couch. And so began our daily movie tradition. (One day we actually watched 3 movies!).

I explained this silly event to a friend and she labeled this experience as my healing couches. She nailed it. Those couches, sitting side by side quite awkwardly in the middle of my living room, became a safe place for me to let go of my depressing thoughts and feelings. There, it was okay to smile, laugh, or just not think about our current loss. It was also okay to cry and be sad or pissed off and angry.

That same day as I was enjoying dinner out with a friend, D received an unexpected visitor. I came home deep in thought about my healing couches and how what started out as a convenient way to watch movies on the computer became so important to me and played a role in my grieving process.

I greeted the unexpected guest as they were outside on our backyard deck. I walked into the house, turned the corner to my living room, stopped cold and a “NOOOOOOO” escaped my lips. D had moved our couches back to their original spot because of his visitor. I plunked myself down on the couch so far across the room from its mate, now not nearly as cozy and inviting as before. I wasn’t ready to be rid of the healing couches. I still needed to sit in that cocoon type of space as I still had so much to work through.

Earlier this week after deciding to watch a movie we had a discussion on how to best watch on the computer. I insisted that the couches in their side by side position really was the best way to watch movies on the small screen, plus it allowed us to use stereo sound. D reluctantly agreed. I used the power of logic which works on D every time! But I had an ulterior motive, I just really wanted my healing couches back.

We moved the couches back to the side by side position. I climbed onto my couch, grabbed a blanket, and breathed a sigh of relief. Now I can relax. Enjoy the movie. And continue to work on healing from our loss.

ETA: I just finished watching "Can't Buy Me Love". It was as good as I remember!! It totally brought me back to High School and you gotta love the 80's fashion and music! And I had no idea that McDreamy played Ronald Miller!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

home study update blahs

Yesterday we met with our social worker to update our home study. Blah. Our current home study expires in the beginning of August. I was so dreading this day and really thought we had escaped the update blahs when A picked us to adopt her child in June.

The update was really painless. (Except for the bill we’ll receive in the mail from our agency). The hardest part of the update is how the whole process made me feel. I felt like we were starting right from the beginning with everything. Because we had such high expectations that the adoption would happen quite quickly, never did we imagine doing an update. So I wasn’t especially excited to see our social worker under these circumstances…we thought we would be arranging a post placement visit with her this month instead.

I know in my head that we haven’t really restarted the whole process. Our American agency will proceed as usual with sending us information on potential matches. In 7 months we received information on 6 potential matches. I feel like we’ll now have to go through 6 more and another 7 months before we’ll be chosen again. We’re wondering how many more times we’ll have to go through the stress of wondering if an expectant mom is going to pick us. And then wonder why the hell not when she doesn’t.*

*I am very aware that this process isn’t just about me and my wants and desires. D and I have the utmost respect for each expectant mom profile that crosses our path and we really only want what is best for her. But right now I am in a frame of mind where this is about me and how I am working through this loss.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

lost opportunity

We all have lost opportunities. Times when we wish we could go back in time to change our path or grab hold of opportunities that presented themselves. There is a lost opportunity in my life that is very dear to my heart. I have lost the opportunity to breastfeed as an adoptive mom.

Let me explain.

Firstly, this is a very controversial topic in the adoption world. I am not looking to start a discussion on the shoulds or should nots of this topic, I only want to share my story.

The body is an amazing creation and it can do some pretty crazy things. You can induce lactation in women who have never breastfed or even been pregnant. This requires the use of medication and a very good electric pump. It also requires a ton of determination and dedication.

If you are interested, the protocol to induce lactation can be found here.

After a great deal of thought and discussion with D and others, I decided to try to induce lactation. The minimum time frame the body needs on the meds is 30 days, but the longer you stay on the meds the better chance you have of building a milk supply. Since we didn’t know how long our wait would be and that it could have happened really quickly I started the medication protocol early October 2008. The medication consists of continuous birth control and domperidone (which is approved for use in Canada).

Having the option to breastfeed was exciting to me. I am definitely pro-breastfeeding and have received quite a bit of education and training on breastfeeding since I work in child and maternal health. This was very important to me.

When we were chosen by A to adopt her child I began the process of trying to build a milk supply for when baby arrived 12 days later. This meant that I stopped the birth control, continued on the domperidone, included two different herbs daily, and started pumping. I had a date with the breast pump every 3 hours. And I mean EVERY 3 hours, straight through the night. This was exhausting! Baby wasn’t even born yet and I was getting used to organizing my day in 3 hour blocks and getting up multiple times in the night. I even had to arrange space at work during that last week so I could pump.

By the time baby was scheduled to arrive I had built up a nice little milk supply. It really was quite amazing. I talked with A about my hopes and intentions. I was so concerned that she would think the whole thing was totally wacked out and wouldn’t approve. But she was awesome. After asking her if she was okay with me attempting to breastfeed her child, her exact words were, “go for it girl!” She was even going to let the nurses know at the hospital so that I could try nursing right after he was born. Once again, everything was so great. We were all thinking so carefully and intentionally about each other and this baby.

But we all know that the end to this story is not a happy one. As our dream to adopt A’s baby boy died so did my hope and dream to breastfeed.

Once we found out that baby was so sick and our adoption wouldn’t proceed, I began the process of cutting the milk supply that I had so lovingly built. A devastating reminder that we wouldn’t be bringing home this baby.

Now for me to again pursue my desire to breastfeed would mean that I would have to restart the whole protocol from the beginning as we wait again for someone to choose us.

It was so much work to pump, and as I bonded with the pump at 2:00 in the morning I had many thoughts of how much easier formula would be. Yet I was so dedicated and determined to make this work. I was also so emotionally invested in the idea of breastfeeding this baby that I persevered and bonded repeatedly with that pump. Someone commented to me that I was already loving this baby by being so dedicated to inducing lactation and the work it required. She was right.

I don’t know how I can begin that attachment process again a second time before we even meet baby. We already know that our hearts will be more guarded the second time around in general and to throw breastfeeding into the mix will just be too much for me to handle. Now that I know how hard the whole process really is I don’t think I can start it all over again.

I am quite saddened by this. Actually, pissed off more accurately describes my feelings! The opportunity that I had created for myself to breastfeed as an adoptive mom is lost. Just one more thing that I have to grieve and work through.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

a hard week

It's been a hard week.

Going back to work has been difficult for a variety of reasons. So far I've teared up at least once every day while at work. One of my jobs involves pregnant women and babies -- usually I can distance myself enough while at work to protect my heart...this week I couldn't. My other job was one that I had no intention to return to after we adopted the baby. Today I returned. My heart just dropped as I walked through the door.

Today, while back at a job I have left emotionally, I received an email about a conference in November. For a moment my head and heart filled with dread. I was overcome with this feeling that I will still be working 2 jobs and childless for many more weeks and months. I don't know how I am going to do this.

This has also been a hard week for others that I deeply care about. Laura, who is a year into waiting for a referral to adopt a child from Ethiopia, found out this week that their adoption agency just declared bankruptcy. And my good friend H, continues to wait for one last piece of paperwork, that has been delayed unexpectedly and indefinitely, before she can go get her daughter from Ethiopia.

Adoption is hard. There are many of us asking the same questions day in and day out....why and when...

And I still have one more day left in this week. Oh how I pray that the weekend comes swiftly.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

leaving the cocoon

I like to feel safe.

Safety in, car, personal, important but I am referring to feeling safe in social situations. I have difficulty investing in people or situations when I don't feel safe. When I don't quite trust the outcome of our conversations. It is difficult for me to let a lot of people into my life in a truly personal way. I am more of an introvert than I would like to believe and to have so many people know my heart and mind is tough. Especially when I don't quite trust how people will react to my thoughts and feelings.

There are so many people that know about our current situation. This is not just because we have intentionally let people into that part of our lives, but because of D's vocation many people know that we wouldn't have necessarily told until everything was a done deal. It is comforting to know that we have a lot of support...but I don't always feel safe with all these people and to have them all know what I am dealing with is hard for me.

D and I have developed quite the cocoon during the past week. Our home is so very safe for both of us. Here we can cry, mope, and be angry on our own and together. Here we don't have to explain anything to anyone. Here we can just BE.

Tomorrow we both need to leave the cocoon and enter the real world again so to speak. It is back to work on Monday morning. Time to enter unsafe territory and time to put on the mask once again. Time to suck it up buttercup when friends have babies and others get pregnant. The mask protects me but it doesn't make me feel safe.

I have experienced deep grief before and been the recipient of pat answers that were supposed to comfort but didn't. I know that people mean well and that it is difficult for many to know how to respond in grief situations. In these uncomfortable situations it is easier for me to take on the role of comforter to let them off the hook. To let them know that I will be okay.

But I don't know that.

I'm tired of saying, "life goes on" "we'll just move on" "things will be okay" "time heals"...blah blah blah, when inside I'm screaming and crying "WHY?" "what the...." "I just don't get it".

So tomorrow I leave the safety of our cocoon, don the mask, and try my darnedest to do what is expected of me in this life.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

some people...

This is a conversation I had with my hair stylist just after we got "the call".

Me: Guess what?! We finally got THE CALL last week! I might be a mom very soon!

K: Oh how exciting! That's it. I'm definitely going to adopt now. (Said with a blase kind of attitude implying that she can just sign something and it would all be done).

Me: Well, it's not quite that easy. This has been one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced.

K: It can't be more difficult than being knocked up for 9 months.

Me: ...dumbfounded...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

the meeting

We arrived at our destination city on Sunday, June 28th, around noon. This gave us plenty of time to get settled before meeting A and her mom for dinner that night. Our agency worker was also joining us for dinner.

We so carefully picked our outfits. Tried to look casual but not too casual, also making sure that we looked good together. We were both nervous and ex

From the moment we met A she stole our hearts. We entered the restaurant and she gave us both very welcoming hugs. What an odd little group we made but it all felt so right. A immediately starting talking about the baby. She gave
us two sets of ultrasound pictures and the three of us carefully looked through each shot marvelling at this tiny being who would bond us all together so uniquely. A and her mom gave us a gift for the baby which was so sweet. And inside the cutest card were pictures of A as a child. How unbelievably thoughtful. We would get to see just how much this baby resembled his first mom as a child and also have those pictures for him to keep. I was just amazed at how everything was turning out so great! So many things were happening that we had only hoped and dreamed for and now they were turning into our reality.

The conversation flowed easily across the dinner table and we made plans to meet up again the next day at A's last doctor's appointment before the c-secti
on. Before we said good-bye that night we had a small photo shoot outside the restaurant, which of course included belly shots! Again, an experience that we really doubted we would ever get, but yet here we were, standing beside this amazing women who would maybe make us parents in two days.

Early afternoon the next day we met A and her mom again at her doctor's appointment. We got there just a bit late because of all the construction in the city. I panicked a bit thinking we had come this far and we were going to miss this appointment. A was already in the clinic room but we were able to sneak in. We listened to the doctor talk about the plan for the delivery. A talked about us being in the OR for the c-section and she also wanted D to cut the cord. A was only able to bring one person in the OR with her and of course chose her mom (and we wouldn't have had it any other way). But we would get to stand right outside the doors and see them bring baby into the nursery and that is where D would get to cut off what was left of the cord. We asked the doctor to explain a few of the ultrasound pictures, he tried, we still couldn't see what he saw! Then we heard it...the baby's heartbeat! That was such an amazing experience for both of us.

We hugged at least a million times before we left the clinic. We would meet them at the hospital early the next morning before the c-section, on the day that would change our lives forever. Little did we know exactly how that would happen...

Monday, July 6, 2009

everything happens for a reason...or does it?

In the last few days we have been the recipients of the above phrase. I am reminded of a very well articulated post written by a friend on this very topic. I asked for permission to share her post (her blog is password protected) as her thoughts echo my thoughts.

Everything happens for a reason.


AIDS infected Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and Darfur, cancer, chronic illness, miscarriage, depression, car crashes, schizophrenia, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, the list is endless. It seems utterly ridiculous to me to suggest that behind each of these there would be a reason for their happening, especially a reason that justfies the gravity of the tragedy experienced. It begs the question of whether or not there is always cosmic purpose driving seemingly senseless circumstances.

The God I serve made a good creation. Evil enters the scene apart from God, with disobedience on the part of Adam and Eve who responded to the tempting of the serpent. Within the pages of Scripture it does not suggest that God prompted the serpent to test his creatures so that they could be strengthened in their resolve to God. He did not, according to Scripture, have a part in the act of defiance - apart from previously setting the Tree as off limits. Yes, he did make that tree in the garden, the one that Adam and Eve were to avoid - in essence, he created the opportunity for evil to pervade his creation. Why did he do it? Could he just not have bothered with the fated Tree altogether? It would be lovely, but God gave Adam and Eve free will and in order to give them the opportunity to express their free will it was necessary for them to face a moral dilemma in which they had to choose. In the choosing against God, Adam and Eve disrupted the created order...the good order...and invited into the human experience an array of ills. I firmly believe that the chaos we experience today is not related directly to God's purposing, but instead to this defiant act of our ancestors.

When everything happens for a reason is spouted, it implies then that God is behind everything. If that were true it would seem likely that he would have chosen to intervene in the whole Tree fiasco in the first place. It implies that the free will God gave us isn't very free. It would suggest that we are more like pawns than people with the power to choose. It implies that the horrific ills that plague us are ordained at the prompting of God. I am confident that God is present in everything, that even in the darkest of times and in the midst of the most vile acts that the Lord is present. But his presence doesn't imply his purpose.

Forgive me for getting riled up at the mention of these five simple words, but this seemingly innocent statement carries deep theological implications and I will not for a moment join in and agree with any ounce of my being that the good God I serve is the driving force behind suffering.

The death of a young mother, hungry and orphaned children combing dirty streets, broken families, empty arms and aching hearts - I don't think they're purposed. Redeemed? Definitely. Opportunities to experience the Lord's nearness in a way that might not have happened otherwise? For sure. God is in the business of redeeming and restoring. In clothing Adam and Eve as he sent them out of Eden he shows that he is still caring for them. There is a rupture in relationship, but he is present in their circumstance and is working within it. I think he works within the ruptures that sin has brought into the created order today, too.

So before everything happens for a reason slips out of your lips, I offer you an alternative. It's shorter, simpler, and far more catchy. And I think that it's a much more theologically sound alternative that leaves the character of God intact.


Shit happens.

Yes, indeed.

Shit happens.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

the call

On Wednesday, June 17th, just after work, our American adoption agency worker called to let us know that expectant mom A wanted to talk with us on the phone. We did a phone interview with another expectant mom a month earlier so we sorta knew the drill. But this time our agency worker told us that A had really liked our profile and was excited to speak with us. We arranged our phone call for 8:00 that night...and of course we got all nervous!

The last phone call we did both the expectant mom and dad spoke with us. She was very shy and soft spoken and hardly said anything so we filled the space by letting them know more about us. The phone conversation with A was quite different. A got on the phone and the first thing she said in a bubbly, outgoing voice was "you guys are SO cute! I love your cute house and cute cat!" We laughed together and talked about our lives and futures. Our phone call lasted just under an hour and we left it that A would call back if she had any more questions for us. Our agency worker (who was on the phone the whole time as well) said she would call us in a couple of minutes. D and I sat on the couch and not even 5 minutes later our worker called back and said that A wanted to speak with us again. D and I looked at each other slightly confused with a teensy bit of excitement. A got on the phone and asked us if we would like to be parents to a baby boy! We said yes! and then started crying...A started to cry...and then our worker started crying. It was awesome! A told us that she wanted us as involved in her last couple of weeks of pregnancy as we could be and that she wanted us present for the birth (which was to be via c-section). The three of us even talked about names and picked one together that night. We also talked about the open adoption arrangement that we all wanted. D and I were so excited that she felt the same as us about this. Finally we had to say good-bye and then D and I flipped out! We jumped up and down, cried some more, and then made some phone calls. That night was the first time I can say with all certainty that I didn't sleep at all!

For the rest of the week and weekend D and I felt like we were dreaming. We'd ask each other, "did that really happen?" We tried to concentrate on work and other things that needed to get done with great difficulty. We quickly made lists and shopped for our upcoming trip that would make us a family of 3.

On Tuesday, June 23rd, A called again to let us know how her doctor appointment had been the day before. It was so good to hear her voice again as it made everything feel a bit more real. We only got to chat for about 10 minutes. A told us that her mom was arriving later that week to be present for the birth and she also wanted to meet us. A also said that she read through our profile every day - she loved the fact that D only ate Heinz ketchup, that we had a couple of pictures of our baby room, and that we mentioned that we would honor and celebrate her child's African American heritage. We let her know that we were planning to arrive on Sunday and our agency worker said then we could all meet for dinner that night. How exciting that we would get to meet A while she was still pregnant!

Everything was turning out so perfect...

Friday, July 3, 2009

life as usual?

We are back home...with empty arms. Taking an empty car seat on our journey south was fun. People at the airport and car rental place all asked in a confused voice, "where's baby?!" and we had fun telling them about the adoption. Never did we imagine that we would be carrying an empty car seat on the journey home.

The two days we spent with the expectant mom, A, and her mom were priceless and amazing (I will be documenting that). We hit it off immediately. More than once D and I commented to each other that we felt like we were living a dream and none of it felt real. While shopping for some things for the baby on Monday, every so often we would pause and look at each other asking if this was really happening. Then we would get all excited and flustered and try to concentrate on the task at hand.

Maybe it all really was a dream because now that we're home life carries on again as usual. On the inside our hearts have been ripped open, but nothing on the outside has changed. The baby room still sits empty, our house is still quiet, we still have freedom to come and go as we please, we will both go back to work, etc. etc. But life cannot carry on as usual. We have experienced incredible loss in the last 3 days. Loss of a dream, loss of what would have been a beautiful adoption as both parties were on the same page with so many things, loss of relationship, loss of health for baby...and there is so much uncertainty in the future for baby, for A, and for us. And yet again we have experienced loss of innocence. Will we be as excited the next time the call comes in? Will we let ourselves dream? If given the opportunity to go early again, will we? Will we now have more doubt in our hearts than hope?

Now we're left to pick up the pieces and figure out a way to carry on and move forward. We have some decisions to make regarding our future. Pray for clear direction and wisdom.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

a different kind of update

I am continually amazed at the curve balls life can throw. This is a very different kind of post than I was expecting to write this week.

On June 30th a baby boy was born, but he has a congenital condition that was not caught earlier. This is something that can be survived, but the outlook isn't great as this little boy is very, very sick. He is in the intensive care unit at one of the best children's hospitals in the northwestern states so has unbelievable care, but whether he survives and what complications may or may not occur are yet to be seen. Should he make it, he's looking at at least a couple months in the hospital. This little guy is constantly in our prayers.

The unforeseen health and future of this child means our adoption of him won't be able to move forward. We are greatly saddened by this, we are scared for this little baby, and we feel so badly for the birth mom. In the few days we've known each other we have grown amazingly close and looked forward to being a part of each other's lives.

We are completely numb and have no idea how we will recover from this and move on.

Please pray.