Saturday, December 30, 2017

Blog Jump Start Week 2: What Is My Favorite Christmas Memory?

Merry Christmas!

Linking up with Donna again and her challenge to "jump start" my blog by answering the following question: What is my favorite Christmas memory?

I have a few favorite memories of Christmastime. My grandmother's orange rolls that she always baked for Christmas eve. Oh, how I miss those. Or my mother baking cookies by the dozens while my sister and I covered shoe boxes with wrapping paper to put them in. We'd take the shoe boxes of cookies to elderly shut-ins whom my mother visited each week as part of her volunteer work with Meals on Wheels. Those are two of my favorite childhood memories.

As an adult, Christmas was different. I loved the year that I put my first Christmas tree up in my first home, still single and living alone at the time. I felt so independent and grown up that year!  Waking up to Christmas morning in a quiet home all alone was much different than my Christmases are today, and I kinda miss that, but not too much.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was the year that a young man whom I'd met four months earlier came to visit me in my quiet little home. We'd struck up a relationship over those previous four months, writing emails at first, then phone calls every weekend. By the time December arrived, I was counting down the days until he'd be visiting.  I'd spent hours thinking about the perfect gift for him; I wanted to give him something from the heart, and so, I drew him a picture of an Australian lyrebird, which we'd seen on our first birdwatching trip together, along with a photo I'd taken of the first sunset we'd watched together. Christmas Day came and went but my gift didn't arrive until December 28th, when I picked him up on a snowy afternoon at the airport. One year later, we were celebrating Christmas again, only this time, as husband and wife, but that first Christmas with him will probably always be my favorite Christmas.

As a married couple, we couldn't wait to share Christmas with our children someday.  But when the children never came, Christmas again remained a quiet time in our little home, and the absence of a child to share it with was palpable. Instead, we opened our gifts with our little dog, Sage, who'd become our surrogate child.  Oh, how Sage loved opening gifts!  She would sniff around the tree and find the package that smelled like "snakkies", knowing that inside the wrapping were special bacon-flavored doggie treats just for her. Once said package was located, she would rip it apart with wild enthusiasm, tail wagging violently, wrapping paper shredded into hundreds of little pieces. It was so fun to watch and my husband and I would forget for a moment what we were mourning, and instead, laugh with joy over the happiness we'd found in this little stray pup that wanted nothing more than to be with us and to have a belly full of snakkies.

Having lived through nearly half a century now, I've seen a lot of Christmases, and Lord-willing, will see many more. Most I don't remember.  Others, however, are etched into my memory in fine detail. There was the Christmas when I went to the doctor on December 28th and saw my little John on the ultrasound, kicking and moving. He is seven now and that moment when I first saw him will always be my greatest Christmas gift and I praised the Holy Innocents for interceding for us.  But there is also the December 28th two years later when I returned to that same doctor, pregnant again, but this time with a much sadder prognosis.  I prayed to the Holy Innocents to intercede for us again, and God replied by giving us another saint in heaven.

And then there was last year, again on December 28th, when Sage ran away during a freak thunderstorm. For the next three days, we combed the woods, walked up and down the hills, and stopped at surrounding homes, looking for her.  She was old and feeble and I feared the worst. I prayed fervently to the Holy Innocents to watch over her and bring her back to us. "Please don't let it end this way," I'd prayed.  After 15 years of having her as our "first kid", my husband and I couldn't bear the thought of not knowing what had happened to her. And then, in a miraculous turn of events, Sage showed up at a friend's house, miles from our home. How she found that particular house was beyond explanation. Again, through the intercession of the Holy Innocents, God had given us the perfect Christmas gift with the return of our beloved pet.

So, for now, those are my most vivid Christmas memories.  Some are good, some not so good. There have been Christmases filled with joy and love and magic and huge blessings, and there have been Christmases filled with loss, pain and tears. But mostly, there have been Christmases that I can't remember. And perhaps really, those are the best ones. The ones that reflect the ordinariness of life, when nothing remarkable happened, other than remembering that on another ordinary, unremarkable day in Bethlehem, God chose to join us and is with us yet.

All you Holy Innocents, pray for us!
~Feast of the Holy Innocents~
December 28th

October 2001 - June 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Blog Jump Start: Week 1 "Why I Write"

I'm being encouraged by Donna over at "What If God Says No?" and her idea to do a blog link up starting this week.  It's a wonderful idea for those of us like myself who have dropped the blog ball this past year (or two!) but still have plenty of good intentions. So, here goes my first attempt at jump starting this blog again.  Thank you, Donna, for this kick in the pants!

So, why do I write?

I started blogging for a pretty simple reason. I was looking for belonging. After 9 years of infertility and 20 years in a career, I had suddenly become a mother to two babies within six months. When I started blogging, I was almost one year into my new role as a stay-at-home mother, and although I had a wonderfully supportive husband and two constant tiny companions, I felt lonely.  I guess you could say I was going through an identity crisis of sorts. All my friendships had been centered around my former career, and I knew no other stay-at-home mothers. And truthfully, I didn't want to bond with other mothers at the time because my infertility had left me pretty scarred by women who seemed to take motherhood for granted.

It was actually during the infertility period that I had discovered blogs, and as some of those infertility bloggers became mothers, I gradually started to believe that maybe this was a community that I could be a part of. So, one day, I just started writing. And as I wrote more and more, I realized that I really enjoyed it. I also realized that through the writing, I was processing a lot of my emotions and experiences. This blog became my space to share my attempt at making sense of the life happening around me, and to me. I might add, also, that I felt a strong need to share my experiences and thoughts within a Catholic context. I had always kept my faith and my infertility journey very close to my chest, so writing about it gave me the chance to test the waters, so to speak.  Now, because of how I've grown due to blogging, I feel much more comfortable sharing my personal story with others who may need a little encouragement or just a shoulder to cry on.

This, I think, is why I still write. Although a lot has changed since my first blog post 3 years ago, a lot also has not changed.  The desire for community is still there. The desire to share my stories with others who may feel alone like I did (and sometimes still do) when I started blogging is also still there. My desire to connect with others who share my Catholic faith and how I try to live it in my family is stronger than ever. And then, there is just the plain old fact that I like to write. I like to tell stories. I come from a family of writers.  My father and grandfather are authors. I grew up in a home full of storytelling. It's in my blood.  Sometimes, I just want to create a story and this is where I like to do it.  And if I can figure out how to do it without burning supper, I'll keep doing it, because everyone has a story and it is our stories that say the most.

Friday, November 10, 2017

7 Quick Takes - End of Summer

I can't believe I haven't written a QT in well over a year.  Yikes!  I'm really glad, however, that Kelly over at her blog still hosts them and so, for old time's sake, I'm linking up with her today.  Thanks, Kelly!

So, considering this blog left off with this little guy's adoption/birth story, I feel it only appropriate to dedicate this first QT to his birthday.  The end of summer brought the end of our first year with him, and what a year it was.  It absolutely flew by and I am missing those baby days oh so much. At 14 months now, he is rapidly turning into a toddler and is walking, trying to run, trying to talk, and into everything. He will have no trouble keeping up with his big brothers soon. I am so blessed to have this little one in my life. He has been a super easy baby (a big answer to prayers) and is full of laughter and curiosity. He brings us so much joy everyday and was truly worth all the pain and waiting that it took to get him here.  Knowing he is likely our last baby makes him extra special, and I will have a very hard time not spoiling him!

Getting on now to more mundane things.  As winter approaches, life in the woods means being inundated with furry little critters trying to find warmth and shelter in which to ride out the next few months. Deer mice have decided to invade our warm abode and stash their treasures of acorns and sunflower seeds in the nooks and crannies of our home, leaving of course, their calling cards to mark their trail.  After trying every mouse trap available, and being outsmarted by mice that lick the bait off the trap but never trip the triggers, we decided to design a better mouse trap.  We were particularly challenged by a mouse that spent each night partying on our kitchen table, and dining on the crumbs left in Dominic's high chair, and I was losing patience as I spent every morning disinfecting our table and high chair. After trying multiple traps, we came up with this design, inspired by the time that we inadvertently found dead mice in our garage inside the bottom of a bucket.  My engineering husband placed a 5 gallon bucket on a kitchen chair next to the table, then put a paint stirring stick on top, with some sunflower seeds to serve as bait. The first night we tried it, it worked! The next night, it caught another mouse. So, now when we have to pull out the "big guns" to outsmart a tricky mouse that isn't lured in by the standard snap traps, we use this design.  Now, we just need to figure out how to outsmart the coons trying to get our chickens!

Summer brought the usual gardening chores and our garden did very well this year, thanks to the deer-proof fence that we and my father helped build last winter.  This year, I tackled growing mushrooms for the first time.  It was really pretty easy but after months and months of watching my "mushroom logs" do nothing, I was about to give up.  Then, one day last September, after three days of steady rain (thank you, Hurricane Irma), I walked out and saw this!  Oyster mushrooms!  Since then, my mushroom log has produced another batch and my shiitake mushroom log is also showing signs of fruiting for the first time.  I'm definitely hooked now on growing my own mushrooms and it's fun not knowing exactly when they'll pop out!

Although summer gardening is over, our fall garden is still going strong. Fall gardening is my favorite kind of gardening, partly because greens and broccoli are my favorite veggies (and who doesn't love a salad picked fresh from the garden), and partly because I don't have to fight the bugs, heat, and weeds.  I'm lucky enough to live in an area where we can harvest fall garden produce usually until Christmas and sometimes, even winter-over a few things like our kale. I know some people prefer to grow tomatoes and peppers but give me kale and spinach any day!

The autumn colors here were much later than usual, to the point where we didn't reach peak color until the last week of October, which is about 2 weeks later than usual. But, my oh my, they were well worth waiting for.  I believe that this year's fall color show was one of the best ones yet.  It was certainly the best one I could remember. The red maples, hickory, sweet gums, beech, sassafras, black gum, sumac and sourwoods all put on a spectacular show.  We went on a few hikes to immerse ourselves in all the beauty, knowing that in a week or so, it would all be gone.  Now, as I write this post, the leaves have mostly all fallen, and we have entered into the gray, damp, chilly days of Appalachian winter, and hikes into the forest are not nearly as enticing as sitting next to the warmth of the wood stove.

We said goodbye to October with the usual Halloween festivities. We skipped the trick-or-treating, however, and instead, enjoyed a quiet evening of dessert, some candy, and "The Great Pumpkin".  The next day, the boys wore their saint costumes to Mass and we celebrated the feast day with "Saint Bingo" and more dessert.  John really enjoyed making his St. George costume with me this year, and I love learning and teaching them about the saints this way.  Joah was St. Francis of Assisi, and Dominic was his namesake, St. Dominic. Getting a photo of my little St. Dominic proved to be the challenge of the evening, however, and this one is the best I could do!  He would not stand still, not even for a second, nor keep his shoes on, stop pulling off his rosary, etc.  By the time mass was over, all three of my little saints had become "holy terrors". In my experience, evening masses and small children do not go well together, and by the time the night was over, we'd all been through a bit of mortification!

We've also been trying to remember to pray for the Poor Souls during this month and took a special trip to see the grave of a dear friend on All Souls' Day.  Her death was actually on All Souls' Day a couple of years ago, and I wrote about it here.  It's one of my favorite posts and sums up, for me, what God is trying to tell us each year when he sends us the the fall colors.  Even in death, there is often beauty.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Conclusion

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.


For Dominic.

We made the drive home slowly, going only a few hours each day. You did not enjoy the car seat very much and got fussy quite a bit. Your brothers were so excited to be heading back to Kentucky. This had been a hard journey for all of us, especially Joah. After a period of extreme behavior issues, he had broken down and started sobbing just a few days before, and finally confessed that he was broken-hearted because he didn’t think he’d ever see his Kentucky home or his Grandpa again. For your brothers, the fun had been over for a long time and it no longer felt like a vacation. Your father and I had under-estimated just how much anxiety all the activity surrounding the trip and the events around your birth had caused in your brothers. Knowing that they were finally going back home, after a month-long journey with no end in sight, brought their little hearts great comfort.

After traveling across 900 miles, we finally left the freeway and started winding our way up north through the hills of Tennessee and onto the Cumberland Plateau. I was amazed at how much the landscape had changed during our absence. Goldenrod and blooming asters now lined the roadsides, and I rolled down the window and let the scent of pine woods and countryside fill my head. It felt so good to be home again and to be introducing you to my favorite corner of the world, far from the pavement and smog and oppressive heat that we’d experienced in Houston.

The welcome home was wonderful. A few friends came by to see you and bring food and gifts. Cards and packages began to arrive in the mail. Church friends, in particular, were beyond excited to have us back and were enthusiastically planning your baby shower. Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t wait to hold you and our little dog jumped for joy.  We were home!

And you…you thrived. The first month flew by and on October 2nd, the Feast of the Angels, we had you baptized. It was not lost on me that it was in October that we had initially felt the call to adopt and four years later, in that same month, we had found completion of that calling. God had finally brought you to us, and we were now joyfully bringing you to God.

Those first few months with you were like one big happy dream-come-true. You and I cuddled often and we spent hours at night one-on-one. Your brothers couldn’t get enough of you and Joah was kissing you constantly.  One of them always wanted to play with you and sit next to you and hold you. Your daddy was always there to help me, even in the wee hours of the morning, with diaper changes and warming up food for you. You fit into our life perfectly, and all the years of waiting just melted away.

On May 22, 2017, we were able to finalize your adoption. Four years and seven months it took us from the time we decided we wanted to adopt again until the day it was finally all over. Many of the steps along the way were painful, frustrating, and discouraging. So many times during that long wait, we questioned if we were following God’s will in our desire and pursuit of adopting again. Even now, I feel a bit resentful that we had to wait for four years for an adoption, but I know that without the wait, we wouldn't have you.

And when the time finally did come, as I look back at the unfolding of events, I can see that God and his saints were helping us along our way. There are the little things that are too numerous to merely be coincidences. Such as the fact that your father and brother both share St. John the Baptist as their patron saints, and that it was on the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist that we were officially matched with your birthmother.  Fast forward two months later, to when you were overdue by nine days and it was anyone's guess at that point when you would be born. Had we realized it at the time, however, we should have known that St. John the Baptist would intercede for us yet again, for it was on the vigil of the feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist that you were born, and on that same feast day 24 hours later that your birthmother miraculously regained consciousness.  I have no doubt that this great saint interceded for us and saved her life and brought us to you.

And your name? Little did we realize when we chose it for you that the name Dominic has traditionally been given to boys who are born on a Sunday, and as if God had planned it that way, you were born on a Sunday. The day that belongs to our Lord. The day of the resurrection and a new beginning. The day that is meant to remind us each week that there is always hope, and that the culmination of pain and trial and waiting, when coupled with prayer and trust in God, is joy and rebirth. I believe it is a great honor to be born on a Sunday and I pray that, as your name suggests, you always belong to Him.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 5

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 5 of 6

For Dominic.

The emptiness in the pit of my stomach hit hard. Your birthmother was in serious trouble, and we could do nothing about it. She’d failed to inform anyone at the hospital of her intentions to place you for adoption before she’d lost consciousness and now your fate was unknown. If the worst case scenario unfolded, you would most likely go directly into foster care and perhaps never get to come home with us. Our only hope was that she would regain consciousness, but the doctors could not assure us that would be the case. She had experienced multiple organ failures and was on a respirator. It was every fear I’d had a week earlier being realized. Meanwhile, you lay in the nursery and had yet to feel a mother’s arms, and my heart longed to be with you.

The next morning, we went straight to the ICU waiting room. Our social worker had managed to find the hospital social worker and gather a little more information about your birthmother's condition. The prognosis was not encouraging. Your birthmother was still on a respirator and unconscious. We were told that they would not begin weaning her off the respirator until 36 hours had passed.  Hopefully, at that point, she would regain consciousness. But even if all that went well, there was still a lot of uncertainty.

We were still not allowed to see you either, although we did sneak up to the nursery at one point and peered through the glass window at the babies, trying to guess which one might be you. We saw your birthmother's name on one of the bassinets and knew then that we had found you. You were sleeping peacefully and seeing you behind that glass made you feel so close but also, so very far away. I wanted to break through that glass window so badly and just wrap you up in my arms. With nothing left that we could do, we returned to our hotel.  It would be at least another day before we'd know if your birthmother was going to recover.

But God had other plans. That evening of August 29th, as I was calling a friend and asking her for prayers, a message from your birthmother suddenly appeared on my phone. It was in broken English and did not make very much sense. I wondered if it was a joke. Did someone steal her phone and start sending me messages? I contacted our social worker and he said that he had just received a message from her, too. It really was her! She wanted to know where we were and what had happened. Twenty-four hours after losing consciousness, to the surprise of even the doctors, your birthmother had awaken on her own and started asking for us. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the miracle we had been praying for and my heart soared!

The next morning, we rushed to the ICU and counted down the minutes until visiting hours so that we could see her. At last, we were able to give her a much anticipated hug and being with her felt like the biggest blessing. She had the sweetest smile in spite of all the trauma she'd just been through, and she asked me if I had been with you. When I sadly told her that I had not been allowed, she was visibly disappointed. Soon after, she signed papers that allowed me to be with you, although, due to hospital regulations, I was only allowed to do so under direct supervision of the hospital security guards. Tears welled up in my eyes when I first held you in my arms. The thought of you not being with a mother during your first day and a half of life broke my heart, and I was determined to make up for the lost time.  I put your skin against mine and rocked you for as long as the nurses would allow.

The next couple of days were spent alternating between spending time with you and with your birthmother. As we all got to know each other, she seemed genuinely happy that we would be your family. Four days after you were born, she signed consent giving us permission to be your guardians and bring you home with us. Soon after, she was discharged and went home. We said our farewells to her, and she held you and kissed you goodbye. Little did we know that we would be seeing her again soon.

You and your brothers and your father and I, along with Grandma and Grandpa, who’d driven to Houston from Missouri a few days before your birth, spent time in the hotel, bonding and getting to know you. I began breastfeeding you and supplementing with formula. Your grandparents visited for a day with you before heading back home. Your brothers adored you! We slowly adjusted to having a new baby in our midst.

Unfortunately, just a few days after your birthmother got home, she began experiencing health issues again related to the birth. She returned to the hospital and I went quickly to be with her, arriving just before she was taken to emergency surgery. She was in terrible pain and her eyes looked up at me in the most pitiful way. I will never forget that look, and I still see it every time I see you looking up at me when you are hurting. I see her in you so much. She made enormous sacrifices to bring you into this world and into our family.

The next day, I visited her and she was doing much better. No longer in pain, she seemed to be stronger. She was sad over the events that had transpired over the previous few days, yet she still spoke to me as a friend. I shared stories with her about you, and we chuckled over how much you liked to eat!  A couple of days later, we said goodbye to her again. Ironically, the day that she left the hospital was the same day that the state of Texas gave us permission to take you back to Kentucky. We felt that there was no coincidence in the fact that the amount of time that it had taken for us to be granted clearance by the courts was exactly the same amount of time it took for your birthmother to recover and be released from the hospital, and we saw God’s hand in that. That timing had allowed us to be there with her when she needed us and now, eleven days after you had been born, she and we were ready to start the next chapter of our lives.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 4

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 4 of 6

For Dominic.

It was in the late afternoon of August 28 when your birthmother contacted me and said she was going to the hospital because she had been having labor pains. Your father and brothers and I grabbed our luggage that we’d only partially unpacked, said a quick good-bye to the B family, and drove into downtown Houston. We went directly to the hospital that she’d told us weeks earlier was where she planned to give birth. But, upon our arrival, we could not find her anywhere! The hospital staff had no record of her, and she was not answering my messages as I tried to contact and find her. For an hour, we sat in that hospital lobby, wondering where she was and what had happened.

Finally, our adoption social worker called us and told us that we were at the wrong hospital.  He had found out only a few minutes earlier that in her desperation, your birthmother had gone to a different hospital, one closer to her home, knowing that the birth was imminent. By now, over two hours had passed since I’d heard from her and I was heartbroken that I was not with her, helping her through the ordeal of your birth. We also knew that it was likely that we would now miss that most special moment…the moment of your arrival. Leaving home two weeks early in order to be present for that moment in time, only to be denied it, left a painful sting. We loaded back into our vehicle and drove north through the busy downtown area as the sun began to set.

As we drove to the correct hospital, my phone rang. It was a friend of your birthmother. She said that your birthmother had asked her to call me to tell me that you had been born. Then she said that your birthmother was having some kind of emergency and that the doctors were with her. Due to the bad cell phone connection, I could barely understand what she was saying, but I could tell that it was serious. Your birthmother’s friend said that she could not stay at the hospital with your birthmother because she had to go to work. This meant that your birthmother would be left at the hospital alone until we arrived, and it made me feel so sad to know that she had no one else there with her.

Soon after, we arrived at the hospital and ran straight to labor and delivery. We were greeted by locked double doors and a phone on the wall. I picked up the phone and a nurse answered. I explained to the nurse who we were and why we were there. In turn, the nurse briefly and abruptly told me that your birthmother had experienced life-threatening complications and was no longer responding. The nurse said that the doctors were still working on her, and that when they were finished, she would be moved directly to ICU. Because your birthmother had not had the chance to inform the hospital staff of her intentions and who we were before her medical emergency, we were told that neither we nor our social worker could have any contact with her or with you.  We were not even allowed to look at you through the nursery window. Our only hope was that your birthmother would regain consciousness and be able to set the record straight. 

And so, this is how the night that you were born ended. We were all left alone with only God’s angels to surround us. You were alone in the nursery, under the care of the nurses; your birthmother was alone in ICU fighting for her life; and your father and I, your brothers, and our social worker were left sitting alone in an empty hallway, looking out the window at a dark night.  Everything was completely out of our control now and we had to surrender it all to God’s holy will. My heart sank as I tried to hold back the tears. This was not the birth story that I had imagined. Feeling completely helpless, we turned around and went to our hotel, heartbroken.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 3

Addendum: This part of the story takes place in Houston, Texas. We were there at this time last year, and we met many kind and supportive people who shared in our adoption experience.  Please pray for them this week as they bear the impact of Hurricane Harvey. 


This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 3 of 6

For Dominic.

On August 11, 2016, we packed our bags and started driving. From our home to Houston, it would be 1,000 miles. We had never made such a long car trip with your brothers, and we had never been to Houston. We had no family or friends in Houston, and were placing all faith in God that he would help us along the way. We were leaving a week before your due date, because we had been given the impression by your birthmother that you would be born ahead of schedule. Anxiety and fear kept trying to creep into my heart, and I would frequently remind myself that God was in control.

And as we trusted, God led the way. As we made our journey, we were blessed with the kindness of your father’s aunt and uncle. They graciously took us in and allowed us to stay at their home for as long as we needed. They lived at the half-way point of our long journey, and became a much needed respite. And even though our visit had been unplanned, God worked out all the details so that our stay with them was not only possible, but also a blessing to us all.

The other great blessing came in the form of the B family. Friends of a friend, they’d heard about our plight and offered us a place to stay while we waited for you to be born. Located just outside of Houston, they opened their home to us and gave us refuge while we waited for your birth. Feeling a little uncomfortable about accepting their offer, we promised to stay for only a day or two, assuming you’d be born on or ahead of schedule. Little did we know when we accepted their invitation that we’d actually be staying with them for 10 days! Yet, in spite of this, they were so understanding and accommodating of our predicament. In a sense, their family adopted our family while we waited to adopt you, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. They became our home-away-from-home and were the family we really needed during one of the most challenging times of our life. They really showed us what true Christian love looks like as they "welcomed the stranger" (Heb. 13:2).

All this time, from June when we first learned of you until we arrived in Texas, I had been corresponding with your birthmother. She was always so sweet and gracious and would send me photos of you in her belly. When we learned of your gender, she was hopeful that we would be happy and of course, we were!  When your father and I chose your name, I was hopeful that she would like it and she did! She even replied that “Mateo” was a name she had been considering for you, and I considered that a little sign from God that we were on the right path.

As your due date approached, my correspondence with your birthmother became more frequent. She was having health issues related to the pregnancy and was struggling just to walk. After your due date came and went, she began to have more discomfort and was having too much swelling in her legs and feet. Through the agency, your father and I gave her the means to visit a local health clinic, but they did little to help her and kept sending her back home. A week passed past your due date and still, you did not come. She became more distressed and our prayers for her and for you were becoming constant. She visited the hospital ER, but they, too, sent her home, telling her to return in 3 days. We feared that would be too long for her to wait. We asked all the saints and our prayer warriors to intercede for us. As the time crept ever so slowly, I had a very heavy feeling in my heart that something was not right, and I feared for you and for her.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 2

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 2 of 6

For Dominic.

One by one, the months went by, and we still had no leads on any adoption situations. In January 2016, we completed our home study again for the fourth time. In spite of the trials we’d already been through, our love and desire to adopt again never wavered. However, by this point, it had been over three years since that October in 2012 when we’d prayerfully decided to adopt again and by now, our dream seemed like only that…a dream. Added to the pain that came from so much waiting and rejection now was the added pain of losing the support and encouragement of our extended family and friends. Any excitement felt by others had long subsided. Our plans to adopt again were never brought up in conversations anymore, except between your father and me, and we were beyond discouraged. In the years that we’d been waiting, other family members and friends had conceived and given birth, sometimes more than once. We watched as other adoptive families were matched with birthmothers after only a few weeks or months of waiting, while our 3-year wait began to drag into four years.

In a nutshell, we were losing hope. Had all the prayer and effort been for naught? Did we misinterpret God’s desire for us? Why would God ask us to wait so long, especially given our age? We had no choice but to trust the calling we felt so strongly. But because our age was a factor for us, along with the accumulation of our adoption expenses, we decided that we would keep trying, but only for one more year.  Ina strange way, it felt good to know our waiting would be over at the end of theyear, and we worked hard on accepting that however the year ended, it would be part of God's plan for us. We were now very weary under the weight of what had become a another cross to carry.

Six more months went by, and we continued to present our profile to a few birthmothers, only to be rejected again and again. Then, one day, a message came to us from our adoption consultant. “Just for you,” our adoption consultant told us, because we had been waiting for so long. In this unique case, your birthmother had asked her agency to make the match for her, and in their mercy, the consultant and agency had given us first chance because we'd been waiting the longest.  A baby, due due in two months. Were we interested?  Yes!  Of course! We had been waiting so, so long for this moment. Could it be real?  We dared not get our hopes up.

It was a Hispanic baby, we were told, gender unknown, to be born in Houston, Texas. We contacted the agency and felt good about the situation. “Lord, help us make the right decision,” we prayed. A few days later, on June 24, 2016, we were officially matched. It was your father’s birthday, and the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Little did we know then that this saint would play a major role in your birth story.

The preparations began for your arrival.  The nursery was painted and we told our families the good news.  Unfortunately, they were hesitant to believe our news could be real. After almost four years, they’d lost all hope, so instead of sharing in our joy, they responded with apathy and doubt. But your father and I refused to be robbed of the joy we were feeling in our hearts as we prepared to meet you. Hope was all we had, and we were going to hold onto it until the very end. We counted down the days, and put up the baby crib.Your brothers talked excitedly about having a new baby brother. We were all so ready to meet you, and we put complete trust in God’s love and protection as we prepared to make our longest journey yet.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 1

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 1 of 6

For Dominic.

This is the story of how you came to us, your birth story, or as some would call it, your adoption story. But mostly, it is just a story about waiting and praying and not losing hope in God, who hears all our prayers even when he doesn’t seem to be listening.

You may believe that your birth story begins in August 2016, but for us, the story of how you came into our lives began many years before you were actually born.

For your father and I, your birth story actually begins in October 2012. October has always been a sentimental time of year for your father and me. It is the month when we were married, and it is also the month when we lost our first child (whom we named Francis) in 2006. In 2012, it was the month when we would have been welcoming a baby that we’d lost 8 months earlier. So, that particular October was a little difficult for us as we struggled with an emptiness that had become all too familiar during much of our marriage. For some reason, our family still felt incomplete even though we had two beautiful sons. We began to wonder if God was asking us to adopt again. We knew we had more love for another child and so, after much prayer and discernment, our hearts began making a place for you and from that point on, our wait for you began. Little did we know then just how long that wait would be.

We told our families about our desire to adopt again during our Thanksgiving holiday that same year. There was enthusiasm regarding the idea of us adding another child to our family, and our parents were excited by the thought of becoming grandparents again. We knew they would open their hearts to you.

That following December, we contacted the adoption agency that we’d adopted your brother through and were told that it would be a few months before they would be able to get the home study finalized. We were so anxious to get started! Soon after, we found out I was pregnant again, but shortly after, we lost that child to miscarriage, too. Needless to say, our desire to adopt after that loss just grew stronger.  After so much loss, we needed you in our lives more than ever, and we were convinced that God had a special child in mind for us through adoption.

Finally, in March 2013, our home study to adopt was finalized and our official wait to be matched with a child began. We had no preference regarding gender or race, and we were open to various adoption situations. We wanted God to lead us to the baby meant for us.

We waited that year, even delaying our move back to Kentucky from Missouri for a year for no other reason than to be able to adopt (each state has different adoption laws). We were optimistic that we would be matched with a birthmother within the year. We’d even completed a 54-day novena specifically for our intention to adopt again. I just knew that our Blessed Mother would not let us down! But when that year, 2013, came to an end and we hadn’t even come close to being matched, we felt another great sense of loss. Was God even hearing us? I asked this question time and time again. Knowing we could not put off our need to move back to Kentucky any longer, we allowed our home study to expire and relocated. Knowing that this move meant we would have to start the adoption process all over again felt devastating. I just couldn’t understand why God would ask us to start all over again if this was truly his will for our family.

The passing of time during the months after we arrived in Kentucky was agonizing because we were not eligible to adopt. I kept wondering if we were missing our only chance at adopting during this period of time that we were ineligible and if the baby meant for us been born and given to another family. Therefore, we were anxious to get approved again by an agency in Kentucky so that we could be back in the “waiting pool”.

After getting settled into our new home, we began contacting various adoption agencies again. With no knowledge of adoption agencies or laws in our new home state, this became a very frustrating process. One agency was very encouraging to us until they took our initial payment, and then they became very discouraging, and of course, the money we'd already paid them was non-refundable. Other agencies were nice enough, but did not agree with our Catholic beliefs and wanted us to sign “statements of faith” contrary to Catholic teaching.  Finally, after much prayer and searching, we were led to an agency that felt like a good fit. Working with them, we started the process all over again, and by the end of December 2014, we had completed another home study. 

It was a huge relief to be eligible to adopt again, and we prayed that our wait would not be much longer. It had now been two years since we’d made the decision to adopt. To hopefully speed up the process, we decided to hire an adoption consultant after being told by the consulting agency that they typically matched families within only a few months. So, we became excited and happily paid our fee. But they were wrong. Again, after paying our money, we found out that most of the birthmother situations presented to us by our consultant would have a “catch”. It was then that we realized that there was a darker side to adoption, and it was adoptive families like ours that often suffered the consequences. And although our consultant did show our profile to several birthmothers, none of them ever chose our family while other families were matched within a few weeks or months. It all seemed incredibly unfair. Over the course of that year, we gradually lost count of the number of birthmothers who looked at our profile. We were never given any explanation regarding why we were not being chosen, and as time went by, the sense of rejection began to feel overwhelming.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Feast of St. Dominic Update

Happy Feast of St. Dominic!

It's been a while...

Lots going on, too much really.  When you're too busy to blog, you're too busy, right?

Anyhow, I will get back to it, I hope!  I almost have Dominic's birth/adoption story finished and plan to have it up on the blog for his birthday.  But in honor of his patron saint's feast day today, I thought it might be fun to share a recent photo of our newest member.

It was a year ago this week that we set out on our thousand mile journey to Texas in anticipation of his birth.  I was so riddled with anxiety and concern and just thinking about it all again brings back so many memories.  Little did we know we'd be gone for 34 days!  So many miles, so many nights in hotels, so much apprehension.  It was both the best and the worst month of my life.  But of course, he was totally worth it all.  And in retrospect, we can see that God was with us every step of the way.

He's such a great little baby, soon to be toddler.  I can't believe how fast this first year has gone by.  Knowing he is my last (most likely), I want to hang onto every little moment.  But he is not having any of that and wants to walk and be able to do everything his big brothers can do!  They already get into squabbles over toys and he eats almost as much as they do.  I'm not sure how I'm going to keep up with it all, but just like the journey to reach him, we will take it day-by-day, and before I know it, all will be hindsight. God has been very good to us this past year, and I thank him and the intercession of many saints, especially St. Dominic, for it all.

St. Dominic, pray for us.