Monday, August 29, 2011

Mama Grief

God has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of the GriefShare ministry at Fellowship. We start our next cycle on September 6. This group focuses solely on the grief over the loss of a loved one. Over the past few weeks I've found myself wondering if God is working His ways again... not just allowing me to use my own grief journey that He guided me through when my Nana died OR if He has placed me in this group at this exact time so I can relearn the grief process and remind me to lean on HIM during these intense times of Mama Grief.

That is what I've decided to name these new emotions that I know God is using to condition my heart because these are a drop in the bucket of what I'll experience, and what I'll watch others experience, as we move through our adoption.

It is a selfish grief. It is grief for the children my body can no longer carry itself. Grief over knowing I'll never again feel a baby grow and move about in their tiny world within my body. Grief for the children that my body will never feed from itself.

It is a longing grief. God has placed it on my heart that in all likelihood, if things go as He seems to be revealing His plan to be, one of our children is likely already born or very soon to be born. And a day doesn't pass by that I do not physically long to hold that child in my arms. To kiss their sweet head. To know their smell. To rub their soft hands and kiss their tiny toes. To wrap them up and have skin to skin contact so we can bond and feel safe with each other. To pour Christ's love into every pore of their being. To jump at the chance to meet every single one of their needs and never let them doubt or wonder for a second if it is going to be met. (I'm not saying I'm the only one that can meet those needs-trust me, been there and learned that one the hard way with Bean. But I have learned that is the foundation of many adoptees' attachment challenges. But we also do not know our children's stories yet. They may be in foster care with an incredible family that loves them, cares for them, meets every single need and adore every moment they have with them. And there will be grief with that.) It is a grief of knowing that a child designed uniquely by God to be part of our family (us for them and them for us) is out there but not physically part of our family. I equate it to what it must feel like if one of your children is kidnapped and missing. You KNOW with that crazy, God-instilled Mama Bear Instinct that they are out there and you NEED with every fiber of your being to find them and hold them-for both of you. Selfish? Smoothering love? Maybe. But for some reason, it is how God made me. And so far (*knock on wood*) it hasn't damaged my kiddos too much.

It is an overwhelming grief for the grief that I know our children and their natural families will endure-not just at the moment of birth or the moment of loss of one another, but for the rest of their lives. Whether it is open or closed, there will be grief. Grief over lost dreams. Grief over not only their child and living life with their child, but a loss of who they were before their child's existence and before adoption. Grief over the way God created things to be and how that doesn't always line up with our expectations, no matter the reasons or situation. Grief over how society will forever view the natural family and how that will clog their healing.

Society consistently denies the natural family their right to grieve. Studies have shown that a natural mother's grief actually does the exact opposite of what is expected with grief involved with death: death grief generally decreases as time goes by, while natural mothers report that their anger and sense of loss actually increase over time (Dr. Condon's study of mothers in South Australia and Winkler and van Keppel's study of mothers). The loss of a child through adoption is one which usually is not openly acknowledged, and the mothers suffer alone in silence and are not "given permission" to grieve.

In many cases, the family that brought this child into the world is not recognized by the community. They will experience an emotional roller coaster that will span their entire lifetime. A roller coaster that I have never ridden and likely will never ride. A roller coaster that I can only read about in adoption books or nautral mother blogs. A roller coaster I can only imagine if I think of losing my own children, and even then, it doesn't touch it. And grief is only a chunk of that roller coaster.

It is an agonizing grief over the small glimpses of what I fathom grief will look like for the 2Bs. Grief over losses that include natural parents, extended family, foster family, home, pets, neighborhoods, schools, friends, treasured belongings, and in some cases culture. This article opened my eyes BIG time. And that is only a tiny speck of the tip of the iceberg of the 2Bs' grief.

That is as much as God will let me process at this point. I know adoption is not beautiful. It is not natural. It is messy and at times horrific torture for the triad, and the triad's traids, and their triads. I know the grief is only part of the process, and that the healing is lifelong. I know it will become a LARGE LARGE LARGE ginormous part of our every living breath. But I also know my God. And I know He heals and He loves, and He calls us to love all of our children. So for now I am trying to let it all soak in-the many griefs for the many people involved, and I try to somehow hand it over to Him and ask Him for the strength to begin to process it all so that when it is our every living breath, maybe just maybe, it will be a tiny nano-grain bit easier to hand it over every.single.second.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tucking Them In

I went to my first ever "Becoming a Woman of the Word" conference at Fellowship on Saturday. It.Was.AWESOME!!!! AND yes, I took some of the prayer chain home. And yes, it IS hanging on the mirror in our bedroom. I love it. It keeps me grounded.

While I was at the conference, I got this overwhelming desire to pray for the "to-be's" (or also "2Bs" since God has simultaneously laid it upon our hearts that He doesn't want us to stop at just one). This whole adoption journey has been a very selfish one on my part. Until now. Before I wanted to save the world through adoption. I wanted to bring babies into my home and love them and teach them about Jesus. I wanted them to know the love of a family. I selfishly wanted to hold another baby in my arms. I even went as far as yearning for midnight feedings, 3am rocking chair parties, and baby food graffiti. Then I learned that saving the baby isn't saving the world-it is just enabling it (while saving the baby and bringing them into our crazy home, and then the reality of the emotional turmoil that comes in the beautiful little package of an adopted baby hits).

God hit my heart hard on Saturday. He shook me until I awoke to the realization that if the path He seems to be laying out for us is to adopt a toddler sometime after Hunter is in kindergarten, that child is likely being conceived or born. NOW. Which means a birth mother is living in fear, anxiety, desperation, confusion, despair, and possibly not too in love with God at the moment. It means a birth family is on the brink of extinction. It means one of the 2Bs is not being nurtured in my womb but in my heart. It means right at this moment one of my 2Bs might be experiencing abuse, neglect, abandonment, or just in a horrible situation where they are not receiving unconditional love and not knowing what it feels like to be safe and know their needs are going to be met.

I'm not saying I'm a savior or that I'm a perfect mom or that I will do everything perfect for my 2Bs. It is a little more like this:

During the first week of October, I suffered inexplicable sadness for our Ethiopian kids, yet unknown to us. I couldn’t quit crying. I couldn’t stop worrying. I felt heavy and dark without knowing why. With tears burning at the slightest provocation, I threw my emotions into the Facebook ring for some backup. From adopting friends, a common thread rose up:

“God is prompting you to pray for your children for some reason. You don’t know them yet, but he knows they are yours. Intercede for them this week, then write these dates down. Once you receive your referral, check their paperwork and you might discover divine timing.”
So Brandon and I prayed desperately for our kids. Were they losing a parent? Were they suffering? Were they tender and lonely? Were they especially hopeless? Their need was unknown, but the ache was acute. So I cried the tears I just knew they were crying, and I begged Jesus to be so near, so gentle in their young, tragic lives while they waited for us, wishing a family wanted them but too afraid to hope.
God is leading me to pray for the 2Bs and I can't question that. I can't look at myself as the crazy lady praying and bawling her eyes out over kids who might possibly exist or may not have even been conceived yet, kids that I have no idea who they are, what their story is, or how they will become mine. But God tells me they will. And I trust that. And I trust his urging to pray for them, their families, and their birth mothers. And so, in a few years, when they are in my arms, I might look back and realize that Aug. 20th was a big day in their story. Maybe it is the day they were born. The day they were first abandoned. The last time their birth mother held them in her arms. I don't know. But I know God is telling me to pray, and while it breaks my heart and causes me all kinds of irrational anxiety and Mama Bear worry, my 2Bs are already my babies-in my heart and in my prayers, and I'm tucking them in tight and never letting go.

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Bella's first day of kindergarten!!! Hard to believe that my baby girl that could barely fit into premie clothes is starting "big girl school." 

She was SUPER excited this morning and very proud of her Hello Kitty outfit that she picked out:)

Being my Silly Bean:) She didn't show any nerves until we got to the school and they opened the doors. Then she clutched my hand super duper tight with both of her hands. Then switched back to excited once we got to her room and she saw her teacher. Then a little timid once more kiddos started to arrive. Praying she has an AWESOME first day!!

The Little Brother was pretty excited for Sissy:)

Making cookies earlier this summer. He LOVES to have us turn on the oven light and "watch" things cook.

I was taking pics of him coloring and he made me re-take them so he could pose:)

Proud of his new Spidey sneakers, Spidey umbrella, Silly Bands, and his big boy hat that he wore on Hat Day at daycare:)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pic Updates

A little behind?!?!?

We decided to take the kiddos to volunteer in Joplin after the tornado. They knew that Mama had been off work (our office was closed the week immediately following the tornado. We didn't sustain any damage but we had no power.) and knew I had been up there helping, and they kept hearing about it on the radio. I decided not to take them through the worst damaged areas-though it is impossible to completely avoid seeing at least some and they both commented on the "broken houses." We were blessed to find a volunteer opportunity that was kiddo friendly. We served with the Boomtown Run Days of Service (typically it is a half-marathon but the race route was in the line of destruction so they turned it into a Day of Service-awesome idea!!!!) at the Salvation Army on 7th Street. The kids had a BLAST!!!! They got to help empty huge boxes of donated Kleenex and then use big fat magic markers to mark through the UPC codes (had no clue but apparently people try to return donated items to get money... praying!!!).

Yep, she looks just a little bit like her mama LOL:)

Watch out-muscle boy coming through!!!
Being a stinker even while serving as His hands and feet:)

This has been our absolute favorite place this summer-the Splash Park in Downtown Bentonville. Seriously THE greatest invention E-V-E-R!!!!

Waiting for the water to erupt

The 2nd best part (best part is the total fun and hearing their happy squeals)... super duper awesome naps!!!

ahhh the anticipation

Bean being Bean:)

We love the Splash Park so much that we decided to have Bella's 5th birthday party there:) She went with a mermaid (non-Disney) theme, and it was super easy!!! Anyone that has kiddos with summer bdays, I highly recommend the Splash Park. It is free to reserve the 3 tables and you don't have to come up with any cheesy games to entertain the kids-they just run and play in the water and have a blast just being kids:)

Part of the mermaid/under the sea theme... I wanted to do something super cute with the cupcake toppers (thinking this... Mermaid Party Pack) but without spending a fortune. I found these awesome foam sea characters at Target, stuck them back to back and shoved a toothpick in them:)  I had to design the mermaid myself... totally traced it:)

Definitely the hit present- a big wheels from Uncle Aaron and Aunt Ronda. She drove that thing ALLLLLL over the Splash Park LOL

Hunter had to have his turn too, of course:)

Goofy best buddies playing with Daddy's Halloween redneck wig:)

New Home

Not literally:) At least not for us yet... just our blogs. I've FINALLY dumped all our blogs into one big fat one. So now everything is in ONE place-what an idea, huh? LOL 

So if you are really super duper bored, you can scroll through the past 4+ years of posts and see Bella's birth and first years, Hunter's pregnancy, birth and first years, my cancer, and our LIFE:)

I'm going to *attempt* to be better and more consistent with posting. We'll see how that works!