Big News: Home Study Done – New Funding Site

Udall Family-9 SquareLast week we hit our biggest milestone yet in our adoption process! After working on it for about eight months, our Home Study is now officially Complete! :-D We are now entering a season of preparation. For the next two months we will focus on funding and preparing to start the Matching Process in August. It takes an average of seven months to match and then we wait for Baby to be born.

Now that our Home Study is done we qualify to join a non-profit adoption funding site: Adopt Together. If you are interested in giving toward our adoption and receiving a tax-deductible receipt, please go to our new giving page:

https://www.adopttogether.org/benliz

We are crazy excited that becoming parents seems to be ‘just around the corner’. Once we start matching, it’s hard to tell how long it will be until we welcome Baby Udall into our home. It could be anywhere between three months to 24 months. There’s a wild ride ahead. We are so thankful to have the Lord and you, our awesome community with us!

Adoption Update: 1/2 to Fund Goal! + Next Steps

mountainI am so encouraged today. After a season of seemingly plateauing in the adoption process, we have made some great strides! Thanks to some generous friends and the selling of the company Ben works for, we are now a little over ½ of the way to our ultimate goal of $40K. This is incredible!! I have many personal journal entries from the past year, asking the Lord how in the world we would get to this giant number. He keeps reminding me that the He is able to move mountains – even even financial ones. By His grace, I’m clearly seeing that He is doing it!

We have now completed all of our Home Study meetings and will do a final review of our 25-page study this week. Once signed and filed our Home Study is done we are legally able to adopt.

What’s Next?

This summer we’re going to continue to prepare financially, emotionally, and spiritually for adoption. We will also be working on our official Profile Book (a photo book that introduces our family to potential Birth Moms). Our goal is to start matching in mid-August. The matching process takes an average of seven months. During this time, our Profile Book will be presented to potential Birth Moms along with several other families’ books. When we are chosen, we will be notified by our agency. We then decide if we want to move forward with the Match. Once we choose to move forward, we will pay the majority of the Adoption Cost at that time.

We can be matched at any time during our Birth Mom’s pregnancy (normally she is at least 20 weeks along). So, once matched, a time of waiting ensues. The culmination of the waiting is when Baby is born. Ideally, we will be at the hospital during their birth. The plan would be to receive Baby at that time. In Colorado our Birth Mom has two days to finalize her placement plan.

Once Baby is placed with us, we have follow up home visits with our caseworker. After six months, if all goes well, Baby becomes our child legally and is issued a new birth certificate with our names added as their parents.

So, there’s a journey ahead. There are many unknowns. I’m so thankful that I can trust our unknown future to a Known God. He is Faithful!

Adoption Fund – 1/3 of the Way!

Udall Family-20I have some exciting news to share today!! We are now 1/3 of the way to our Adoption Fund Goal of $30,000! A huge THANK YOU to everyone who gave toward this fund and helped to make this possible (you know who you wonderful people are). I am floored that we have gotten this far in the past nine months.

The current plan is to continue to aggressively save throughout the spring/summer and then start matching with prospective Birth Moms in the early Fall. That means while we’re working hard to save, we are progressing on finishing up our home study and finishing our Profile (photo book) that will be presented to prospective Birth Moms.

It’s still a big mountain to climb but I am so thankful that we follow the One who Moves Mountains. Thank you, friends, for all of your love and support through this process.

If you are interested in giving to our Adoption Fund, you can do that through our GoFundMe account for now. We hope to have a tax-deductible option after our home study is complete.

Ben + Liz Adoption Fund

 

 

 

Tough Seasons – The Ebb and Flow of Grief

pexels-photoThis is the tough season. I wasn’t expecting it. Christmas flew by with a flurry of activity. Before I knew it, it was mid-January and my heart was ice. I didn’t have energy. I was just making the survival motions to get to the end of each day.

That’s when the crying started. Finally the heart-ice was melting but it hurt oh-so-much. My wonderful hubby’s shoulder was regularly whetted with my tears. It was as if Mom died yesterday. I thought I was past this point of grief.

This has been my life for the past month. As I approach the one-year of Mom’s death on February 26, I have a roller coaster of emotions. This week last year I was at Mom’s bedside at the Coudersport Hospital ICU in Pennsylvania. She was breathing with the help of a respirator. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t swallow. I never knew what it meant to not be able to swallow. She was in agony. I wanted more than anything to trade places with her. To take away the suffering she felt. I was helpless.

I’ve always loved my birthday. It sounds pretty selfish but it’s true. I have so many happy memories associated with the day. This year my birthday engenders a different feeling. There’s a gray cloud over next Tuesday. It was the day we made the decision to remove Mom from all artificial life-sustaining support. It was the day we chose to let Mom go. That was a hard day.

This week, the storm clouds of grief have lifted a bit. I have finally arrived at a place where I can write again. I can communicate with others what is going on inside my heart. I can remember the good of my Mother’s life and be incredibly thankful. I can live. I can see that there is good yet to come in this life. I can look at the future with a smile.

These next two weeks are going to be hard. I’ll need the love and support from the Lord, my family, and my friends to get to the other side. However, I know these two weeks will be good. It’s good to remember. To mourn and to grieve. There’s a time for everything. I trust it will be time to laugh, to celebrate, to rejoice soon.

Thanks for reading. Thank you for caring. I am so thankful for the community the Lord has given me for this season.

Adoption Update: Home Study Almost Done

heart-700141_1920My heart has been so blessed by the many friends who have been asking about where we’re at with adoption these days. In the past two months, we have made great strides in the adoption process. We are almost done with our home study! We still have some paperwork to complete and one more meeting with our case worker (who is awesome by the way) but then we will (hopefully) be officially legally approved to adopt.

One of the more significant parts of the home study process so far were the CORE Classes we were required to take by the state. The classes were a solid 16 hours of training on all sorts of adoption issues – Relating to Birth Mom, Legal Issues, Baby’s Birth at the Hospital, Bonding, Newborn Training, and more! It was incredible. I actually cannot imagine adopting without being given this information. Hubby and I both left feeling empowered and at peace about the path we’re on.

So, what’s next? Now we work and wait. We will be working to more heavily save, fundraise, and apply for grants once we are given home study approval. I have a sense that the waiting period will be long, but I am at rest about it. This is our season of “adoption pregnancy,” complete with moments of Morning Sickness of the Heart. I am so thankful for the space to prepare to welcome our little one into our lives.

Thank you everyone for your amazing support and prayers during this process. I’ve said it before, but it will not only take a village to raise our child but a village to welcome them into our home too. Thank you for walking with us. My heart is overflowing with joy.

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Have to be Pregnant Anymore – On Letting Go

Photo Credit: Brad Smith

Photo Credit: Brad Smith

A year ago one of my friends in my infertility support group calmly and joyfully announced that she asked God to take away her desire to be pregnant. When those words hit my ears, I thought she was nuts (sorry friend). Who would pray such a thing? Isn’t pregnancy a natural and right thing to desire? I could not begin to fathom praying a prayer like that. Not when becoming pregnant with our child was the one thing I wanted most in all of the world. Not when I cried and prayed for this miracle every day. Not when all I wanted was a Baby and a Baby NOW!

Many, many months have passed since that time. Following my surgery that determined that we could not naturally become pregnant (you can read about that here), I grieved and cried every day. My grief was so deep, and my hunger to be pregnant so strong, that it was really hard to see past it. I thought about my friend’s prayer from time to time but I just couldn’t pray it. It was too hard to let go.

Then two months ago, I heard that still, small Voice in my spirit urging me to pray that prayer: To ask God to take away my insatiable hunger to be pregnant. To fully allow Him to implant the desire to adopt into my heart. With a small seed of faith and lots of emotion, I came to Him and made that request. It was a big, “not-my-will-but-Yours” moment for me.

It wasn’t until about a week later that it dawned on me that I felt much lighter. I wasn’t as sad as before. In fact, I realized that I was at a place of deep peace about not being pregnant and about walking the path of adopting. I had greater joy about the Better Plan God chose for us than I had ever had before.

I guess my friend wasn’t nuts (sorry I thought that about you, friend… you know who you are). Or maybe I’ve joined her in the craziness. Whatever the case, I’m so thankful that God answered my prayer and that I can now move ahead with our adoption with a full heart. I’m thankful God is a Good Shepherd who brings us to the place we need to be as we wait for His timing and trust Him. The path often seems uncomfortable, dark, painful but I can already see how beautiful it is. God is Good, friends. He is so Faithful.

 

 

Missing Mom at Six Months

sea-nature-sunny-beachNo one knows
the tears still inside me.

People think it’s all past.
They think I’m all better.

Every once in a while
I think, I hope, I pray
that things will be better too.

But then I remember.
And the pain floods back,
and the bottom falls out,
and I fall and I fall.

And I know once again
that things aren’t all better.
My loved one is gone,
and I cry alone.

How much longer, God?
How long does this last?

(From Finding Hope and Healing by Kenneth C. Haugk)

This poem represents the past six months well. I have moments where I think I’m all better – healed – from the grief and trauma of losing Mom. In fact, I didn’t cry for a whole month. And then, very recently, the memories flooded back. I almost feel like I just lost her yesterday. It’s like reality is just setting in. Oh, this is permanent. Suck.

I don’t have many profound words tonight. But I found this scripture passage very reassuring as I ride the waves of grief:

“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Is. 54:10)

I’m so thankful that God is compassionate. He is mindful that we are but dust. And he understands grief.

 

 

On Going Back to Work

Back to WorkSo, I’ve been away for a while. In the last month there have been some big changes. I started working again after nine months of self-imposed sabbatical. I am so thankful for those months off. I know I would not be at the place of wholeness I’m experiencing now without it. But I am SO thankful to be back in the 9-to-5 working world.

I signed up with a temp agency in the first week of July. The very next week I had my first day at a behavioral health center that does therapy with children who are on the Autism Spectrum. Every day I get to interact with amazing parents and care providers who are working to bring greater potential to the lives of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s a privilege to work there. It’s a 6-10 week assignment so we will see what happens after that time is up.

On the adoption front, we have completed our Home Study Application and have a phone call with the Home Study Director on Tuesday. We hope to be in the full swing of Home Study by the end of the month. It will most likely take 2-5 months to complete this very important first step in our adoption process.

On a heart front, I am at peace. I have so much peace about the Wait of adoption right now. At this point, I’m thinking it will be at least two years before we are holding Baby Udall in our arms. It takes a long time to raise $30K. But in that time, I know we are going to grow and mature and be even better parents in the future because of the time spent waiting.

I have more to tell you but it will have to wait for another post. I’m still working on adjusting to this full-time job. Sometimes I really miss all that free time. ;) Thanks for reading!

 

 

Adoption Process – Our 6 Steps to Adopt

Udall Family-31Ben and I have been working to clarify what our adoption process will most likely look like. I don’t know about you, but I love lists! From what I know at this point, here’s a overview of our expected process:

Step 1: Home Study –  Where we are Today

This is an assessment of prospective adoptive parents to see if they are suitable to adopt a child. It can take 2-5 months an involves 16 hours of classes, multiple interviews with a social worker, and a LOT of paperwork. The bottom-line purpose of the home study is to decipher any indicators that a child could be abused or neglected. It will be a good process for us to go through as we will be talking through our anticipated parenting plans, etc. before our child is in our arms (kinda like pre-parent counseling).

Step 2: Adoption Consultant Sign-Up

We are planning to work with Dawn and Jason Wright with Christian Adoption Consultants. Adoption Consultants provide added support and resourcing as we walk through the adoption process. They have 10 different vetted agencies that we choose from to apply for placement. Working with a consultant often results in a faster, smoother placement. Dawn and Jason have adopted 9 kids and have already started helping us with our questions.

Step 3: Profile Book Completion

Our profile book is what introduces us to potential Birth Families. They will look through several couple’s profile books at a time to help them choose who they would like to place their child with. It can also be a helpful process for Birth Mom’s to decide if she is going to place her child with a family. Our profile book will contain information about ourselves, including pictures. We will also have an online profile.

Step 4: Sign Up with Agencies

Once we have completed our profile book, we will sign up with several agencies and wait to be chosen.

Step 5: Wait and Selection

We will be waiting until Birth Parents chose us. Depending on how far along our Birth Mom is, we will meet with her before her due date and even (ideally) be at the hospital when our child is born. Some Birth Moms choose to place their baby later in their pregnancy or even right after their baby is born, so we’re waiting to see at what part of our baby’s development we’ll connect.

Step 6: Placement

Once we are holding Baby Udall there will be followup appointments with our social worker. Typically six months after placement, our child legally becomes ours for life and is issued a new birth certificate.

Fundraising and Saving

Throughout this whole process we are also working on Fundraising and Saving. If you want to help in this part of the process, you can send us a check or go to the link below to give. Right now we’re focusing on completing the first two steps of the process. We are almost half way to what we will need for Home Study! We have been amazed and humbled by the generosity of friends and family.

Give to Udall Adoption Through GoFundMe

 

It’s pretty exciting to step out in faith and to trust God to provide. We fully believe He will provide all we need for this process – financially, emotionally, relationally, etc. We are really thankful that He has us on this path. We are filled with joy as we plan for the steps ahead.

 

 

Four Months: The Linden Tree, A Poem

LeafMy Mom’s name, Linea, means Linden Tree in Scandinavian. Her middle name, Lynn, means lake or a body of water. Her life, as her name, reflects to me the truth of Jeremiah 17:8 from the Bible:

“They [God’s people] are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

This is in honor of Mom at four months after her passing.

 

The Linden Tree stands tall and beautiful.
Leaves of bright green shimmer in the sun;
Love Leaves with shape of heart,
Exhibiting what flows through the Tree.

Linden is planted by a flowing stream,
Life-giving hydration soaking into deep roots.

The heat rises – fiery, bleak, strong.
Surrounding trees wither and fade.
Linden Tree remains untouched,
Her leaves robust and beautiful.

The deep Roots, hard-won keep Linden strong.
The deep Roots bring Linden Abundant Life.