Thoughts about My Five Week “Pregnancy”

bird-nest-eggs-blue-158734Phew! This has been a wild two weeks. It’s hard to believe that it was only two weeks ago that we received the call that turned our world upside down. The first week after hearing we were matched there were quite a few sleepless nights as my mind tried to comprehend having a baby in a month’s time. I think I even had what I’ve heard my friends call “pregnancy brain” as I made way more mistakes at work than normal.

The second week has been better. It is now much easier to define my emotions and to see what steps need to be done to prepare. Some of the big ticket items I’ve been processing are things like Identity, Taking Care of a Newborn, the Gains and Losses through Adoption, and what the time at the Hospital might be like. Let me share a little more…

Identity

Most first-time parents get about nine months to think about how the baby on the way changes their identity from Individual to Parent and all that means. Though I have thought about this some throughout the adoption process, I haven’t allowed myself to go there in depth as it was too painful. Now I feel I’m flung into this identity change with full force. I’m so excited to have the identity of Mom, but it’s a lot to take in within a few weeks.

Newborn Care

Seriously, a little life is going to depend on me fully for their every need… Crazy! Thankfully, Ben is there to help too, but the responsibility of being a parent to a little, tiny human is so big! I’m very thankful for the many friends with kids we have in our lives and for the internet. ;) I’ve been diving into learning as much as possible these weeks. If you have any advice, I’m all ears!

Gains and Losses

There is loss in the midst of this amazing gain. I honestly believe that Adoption is completely God’s will for our family… that this path is the best one and that we will have the children God wants us to have. I’m also grieving. I’m grieving not getting to hold Baby in my belly, safe and sound for nine months. I’m grieving that our gain is our Birth Parents’ loss. I’m grieving that our Baby won’t share our DNA. I’m grieving that Baby is going to be born far from home and that we won’t get to bring him or her back to our ‘nest’ until several weeks after birth.

Hospital

We’re planning to be at the hospital in Ohio when Baby is born. We hope to make it with plenty of time to be there for the birth. The hospital is the time where the most unknowns exist… which means there’s a lot to process and prepare for. I am so, so thankful and completely honored that our expectant mom would like us in the delivery room with her. I’m also so thankful that Ben’s Mom is planning to be there with us. Some of the unknowns I’m nervous about are: Will Mom really want us in the room with her that day? Will the hospital be friendly towards adoption and know what to do with us all? Will I be able to handle all of the overwhelming emotions and at least somewhat be myself? Will Baby be healthy? So many more questions go along with each of these.

In other news, God’s fingerprints continue to be evident throughout this match! We had a phone call with Baby’s parents yesterday and it was wonderful (another God thing!). In talking with them, we learned the reason they chose us so confidently was that we reminded them of their mentor friends at church. Also, their entire extended family is supportive and excited about us and this adoption. Our expectant parents also so very thoughtfully expressed that they want us to be able to experience as much of the delivery process and the firsts of parenthood as possible. We’re really, really excited about this!

Also, we are completely blessed by the amazing generosity from our friends and family! We’ve had at least one package on our porch from our registry every day over the last week. It’s incredible! We are just blown away and are so encouraged as we keep preparing for Baby. We have a Baby Shower on Sunday – that’s right – amazing friends and family threw one together in just two weeks. Incredible! Our nursery continues to progress (I’ll post pictures one of these days). We are in full nesting mode!

Thank you for your continued prayers and all of the celebrating with us! It means the world to us.

Big News: We Are Matched

udall-family-27Thursday evening I got the shock of my life when our adoption caseworker called to give us the amazing news that we were chosen by one of the families we were matching with. We had attempted to match about five times at this point and I was really used to her calls being, “sorry they didn’t choose you.” Hearing, “you’re going to be parents” from her totally knocked me off my feet!

A couple in western Ohio saw our profile and chose us as the couple to place their baby with. The caseworker told us that they saw our profile and didn’t want to look at any others. They knew that we were the right ones. Her Mom and sister also agreed. So amazing. So humbling.

The Baby is due November 13. We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl so that will be a fun surprise! We will be flying out for the birth (we may even get to be in the delivery room) and will be in Ohio with Baby for two weeks (longer if there are medical complications) while we wait for the interstate legal paperwork to be complete. If she’s on time, we may be spending Thanksgiving in Ohio this year!

We are over-the-moon with excitement and are busily getting ready to welcome our son or daughter into our family. We are incredibly grateful for all of the support, generosity, prayers, and conversations throughout the past 16 months. I seriously don’t see how we could have gotten to this point without you, our amazing community. Because of your generosity, we were able to fund the big adoption cost 100% (the cost ended up being $35K)! Let’s all take a moment to celebrate that fact!! I had my doubts about being able to reach such a lofty goal. Wow!

 

I want to also say that the Lord is Faithful and He is Good. No matter what. It is His character. There has been so much grief over the past months and He was Faithful and Good in the midst of that. There will be more times of grief in the future and He will be Faithful and Good then too. He is a Good Author and He is writing a Good Story. I am so amazed and thankful.

 

So, as you might imagine, there’s a lot to do and little time to do it all in (especially if she goes into labor early which is a possibility). Several have asked how they can help. I will list some practical ways and some points of prayer below…

 

Practical Stuff
  • Financial Help. Thanks to the generosity of so many and the saving we’ve been able to do, we have some extra funds to help pay for travel and all of the finalization costs that will come up in the months to come (adoption will be finalized 6 months after birth). However, we are estimating the need for a little more to fully cover expenses (not to mention diapers, formula, etc.) if you’d like to help us with these expenses, you can do so at our GoFundMe account below (or send us a check). Note: The tax-deductible giving page isn’t an option anymore as they’re currently cutting a check to our agency for adoption expenses at this time: https://www.gofundme.com/BenLiz
  • Baby Supplies. We have very little for Baby at this point – everything is happening so fast! If you would like to help with this type of thing, please contact me for our Baby Registry links. We’re registered at Target and Amazon. Some pretty amazing people are planning a shower for us in two weeks. We’re so blown away!
Prayer Points
  • For Baby to be protected in peace as he/she continues to grow. That he/she would be born healthy and that Birth Mom would also be protected in peace through this process.
  • For birth parents as they continue to process their decision and prepare. They wish to live differently after this and to change the circumstances that have brought them to this point.
  • That Ben and I would prepare well spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically for the super-intense time in Ohio. We are specifically working on our nursery, baby names, travel details, etc. Please pray for good health as well – my IBS is definitely acting up these days!

Thanks friends! We’ll keep you updated! :)

Surprised by Loss

pexels-photo-110874The past weeks have been surprisingly rough for me. A little back story…

A few hours after my last blog post, we received a second email about another expectant mom looking to place her baby. It looked like a really great situation – no drug or alcohol use or mental health issues – which is not always the case. The wild thing about this match was that the baby boy was due by c-section in two weeks – and Mom/Baby were in Nevada. This would mean if she chose us, we would be traveling to Nevada in 10 days for the birth and would spend two weeks in Nevada while we awaited paperwork to be completed called an Interstate Compact. We had to choose between the two situations so decided to allow our profile to be shown to the Nevada Expectant Mom rather than Texas.

I started to feel things I had not allowed myself to feel in years – Hope, Expectation, Dreams. My planning side went into action and I started making lists (“what do we absolutely need to have for Baby if we are chosen?”); we attacked our office turned nursery with gusto (“just in case, I’d like to have the room ready”); and I pulled out all of the newborn books I had been ignoring for about five years (“maybe we’ll actually need these now”). I went into full-blown nesting mode for a week. All of the Mommy Emotions that had lay dormant for years, suddenly reawakened. I started dreaming and hoping – imagining myself staring into his sweet face for hours, holding, and caressing him. I began to wonder about his life – what he would do in the future. Would he be safe? Would I be a good Mother? Without my knowing it, I was in love with the little guy from Nevada, not yet born.

So many emotions in that short week. All the while I kept telling myself – the chances of being chosen are slim. You need to hold this Baby loosely. He is not yours until his Mom chooses to go through with her plan. But those Mommy Emotions were too strong. The ‘What If” of possibilities, the desire to be prepared if she just happened to chose us – they overshadowed the reality that we very well may not be chosen. And so when I received the call from our Agency that we were not chosen, I found myself very numb.

It took a few days for my heart to catch up with the news. And when it did, I found a place of grief that I had not experienced before. I felt a deep loss and barrenness. I also felt very silly. I kicked myself for allowing my emotions and dreams to go so far. To think that this baby was finally the fulfillment of the goal we have been working towards for six years when nothing was promised. It was a pretty confusing place to be in. I could not figure out what was going on – how could I be feeling THIS level of grief when I didn’t even know this baby existed until a week ago? Then I met with my counselor. She helped me make sense of it the overwhelming emotions. I was experiencing emotions very much like a woman who has experienced a miscarriage. In my heart, I had lost a baby and I must grieve this loss.

This process was so painful. I walked through three very dark weeks. I had to go through a significant process with the Lord of releasing Baby into His hands and blessing him and his new family. The biggest recovery step the Lord graciously led me to was one of Surrender. It’s a concept I’ve clasped onto at various times in my walk with God – surrender your rights, surrender your possessions, surrender your desire to be married. But this felt different. I could tell God was asking me to surrender the all-consuming hunger to become a Mother. I didn’t want to.

I had one evening when I first heard that still, small Voice asking me to release this hunger into His hands. I lamely attempted to let go but knew, in my heart, I was holding fast. Then I totally forgot about that moment and moved on with my grieving. A few days later, I had a friend tell me she had been regularly praying for me (I had never really told her what I was going through). Out of ‘nowhere’ she said something to the effect of, “God often wants us to Surrender to Him because He knows what we don’t know.” Ouch. This was NOT music to my ears. It struck me to the heart to realize that God is asking me to do the very thing I did not want to do – give Him my hunger for Motherhood. And to say those difficult words, “Your Will be done – Not mine.” I struggled with this all day. I saw my counselor again that evening and wrestled with it some more. So much wrestling in my heart. It felt like a battle for my very soul.

Then another strange thing happened. After my appointment, I got into my car and the radio just happened to be on and tuned into my Christian station rather than Public Radio (where it often sits). The speaker on the station was talking about Thankfulness. Oh no, I thought. And I had one of those moments where the Lord Himself seemed to say, “Listen up, this is important.” The preacher quoted a verse I’ve heard 100 times – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18, ESV). And that was it. I knew my wrestling was over. Despite my lack of emotions to go along with the action, I started naming off, out loud, by myself in my car all of the things I am thankful for. Anything I could possibly think of was named. Then I got to infertility. And after a pause and a few tears on the cheek, I even thanked God for this path He has allowed in our lives. Knowing He knows what I don’t know. He sees what I don’t see. He is able to bring about what I cannot even begin to imagine right now. And it was in the context of Thankfulness that I was able to really Surrender this insatiable desire to become Mom. Oh the release. The joy. The peace.

The sadness remained but somehow it was bearable. It was hope-filled sadness rather than pointless, dark sadness. I had joy. I was legitimately laughing at work once again. I was engaging with the world.

Today, I’m in no way “over” the grief. I’m still working through it. I have to remember every day to once again Surrender what I want and to open the hand – and receive whatever God wants. I’m seeking to remember to thank God for each day – for who He is and all He has given. That He is good. He is faithful. He is writing a story and I cannot even begin to imagine. He is worthy of my trust, of my surrender, of my thanks.

If you’ve made it to the end of this blog. Thanks for sticking with me. It helps me so much to be able to process this adoption journey with you. Thank you for being with us, friends, in the midst of this process when we don’t know the ending yet. We are so incredibly Thankful for YOU!

Adoption: We are Starting to Match

Udall Family-60And things keep on rolling along… now that our Home Study is done and our Profile Book is printed and sent in, we are now hearing about and able to respond to possible matches. We were told last evening of a possible match in Texas. The baby is due in November and the family seems nice from all we’ve read. We’ve decided to move forward with showing our profile to them. We’re optimistically cautious at this point.

Our profile along with several others will now be shown to the family. They will then chose one family to place their child with. After they chose we will be notified if it was us or not.

This Matching Process could go on for many months with multiple families… or they could just chose us this week. It’s such an odd place to be in. I’m so anxious that they won’t pick us and yet I’m so anxious if we are chosen. If they don’t pick us it means more uncertainty: waiting, wondering, and asking where our match will be from. If they do pick us things get real: the good and the bad.

The biggest immediate practical reality for me will be knowing the actual amount we will need to pay to the agency – an amount that we are currently $6000 short of. We’re not worried too much about this – it’s actually incredible that it’s only that much short. God is so faithful! But it will mean a loan.

Bottom Line: We are trusting God with this next step. We’ve chosen to say yes our profile book can be shown yet we’re trusting God with the outcome. Please pray with us that if this TX family is supposed to be our Birth Family, that God will lead them to us. If they are not, that we would be patient. Please pray for peace in any case. I have a lot of peace tonight. I want to keep walking forward with peace. Thank you friends!