still waiting

Our birth mom is due in two weeks. So now everything that happens we’re just checking off the list. Recital – done, parties on Saturday – done. Childcare for while we’re gone – taken care of. Now there’s just some odds and ends to tie up and vacation that we hope to go on next week. And I’m nesting a bit like a crazy person. This is so strange! I don’t really even know how to feel. So I am just asking God to give me the emotions I’m supposed to have.

Our fundraiser is in less than a week and I find myself really hoping it goes well. Yes – it’s totally humbling – but our friends and family are working so hard and I don’t want their efforts to go unnoticed! It’s fully weird and uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of this. But that is grace. We don’t deserve friends and family like this. But we’re getting it. So please hear us say thank you. Over and over and over. We are really grateful.

humbled

We traveled last weekend to meet our birth mom. Even as I type that I realize with sharp clarity how strange that sounds. Yes, we met the person who is potentially giving us their baby. It wasn’t awkward or forced, it was beautiful. She is beautiful. We were in the room at the agency filling out some papers, I heard her voice (I knew it because we’ve been talking on the phone) and Zach and I both stood up to hug her. And then we all cried. I honestly don’t have words to accurately describe the feelings I had last weekend, or to accurately describe her. Rid yourself of all preconceived notions and the picture you have in your mind if you think she is anything less than amazing. She. loves. this. baby. Out of love she’s made a choice.

All this time I have felt swept along in this plan – led to do this, go there, fill it out, send the thing, hold it back, start, stop, wait. Meeting her made me think – she’s really serious. She really is going to do this and she wants us. And as I looked back over these months I see where God has been weaving a beautiful tapestry to connect our two families. And all that reassurance that God is clearly in control and that she seemed certain she was going to sign those papers after the baby is born did not give me peace. I actually got afraid. Really afraid. (maybe I still am) At one point over dinner we talked about the zoo. “I love the zoo”, she said. “Maybe you can come with us some time”, I replied. That was hard for her to wrap her brain around. That we would be willing to have a relationship with her after the baby is born. I love this young woman. I have a deep sense she will have a treasured part in our family for eternity. So, of course, I’d take her to the zoo. But that is where she and I met. She’s afraid I’m not going to keep my word and let her see this child. I’m afraid she’s not going through with her adoption plan. And neither of us can trust the other because God wants more. He wants us to trust HIM. Romans 8:31-32 has been a great help. Not that we’ll get everything we want – but assurance that He’ll give what He wants and that’s so much better.

It’s a great blessing to go through this process having biological children. They are reminders, in the flesh, that God is faithful. I dealt with fear each pregnancy wondering if we’d get to take our baby home. And yet, having them at home while we travel is really hard. I HATE leaving the kids. I hate every part of it. When we walked into our hotel room last weekend I was hit immediately with anxiety. We’ll have to make the trip again! For longer! And next time we’ll (hopefully) have a newborn. In a hotel room. TRUST!

And the money…it’s a lot. More than we thought. Much more. For reasons beyond our control we are paying double agency fees. But we are not giving up. God didn’t. I realize you can’t say that about every adoption but we didn’t feel released when we found out the number we were counting on rose by thousands of dollars. We love this mom. We love this baby. It’s not like God didn’t count the cost when He sent Jesus. God counted the cost and sent His Son anyway. And that’s why our crazy friends redesigned the blog and are doing everything in their power to get people to this fundraiser. So that others can get in on what God is doing. Because it’s not about us. It’s about Him.

Buy Tickets Now!

Our Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser is shaping up really well!  In fact, the cigar bar is going really, really well.  A friend of Zach and Danielle’s put a request out for cigar donations on a forum that he’s part of.  We were praying for 50 cigars to be donated… so far we’re at almost 200 and in the end we’re expecting around 500 cigars from almost every major brand! The response was enormous and, of course, is “more than we could ever ask or imagine!”  We’re going to change up our fundraising just slightly.  It’s still spaghetti and karaoke.  It’s still $10 a ticket.  What has changed, though, is that we’re going to have dinner and cigars outside on the patio and dinner and karaoke inside.  Basically if you’re coming just for cigars and dinner you can avoid the karaoke by staying on the patio and enjoying your smoke!

Please feel free to print a flyer and hand them out!  We’re praying for a large turnout and it’s going to be a great night!

Tickets are on sale now:

Ticket Quantity



Also, a few people have mentioned that they can’t make it to the event, but want to still give.  We’re working on an easy way to make that happen and I’ll update soon.  In the meantime, please email me at karababy20[at]yahoo[dot]com if you would like to mail Zach and Danielle a check and I can provide you with their address!

 

stunned

Two weeks ago we were presented a second time to a birth mom. The agony, the heart-racing, the butterflies, the hope. All of it was there again. Accept this time was different. Throughout this process I’ve had a sense when we’d get a “no”. I didn’t have that sense this time. I didn’t know it would be a “yes”, but I felt certain this was not a typical “no”. I wrote her a letter. It was the first time I did that. I felt like I needed to, there was an urgency. I wanted to tell her God had a plan for her and her baby, that God loved her. Even if it meant she chose another family. She didn’t. She chose us. A new chapter in God’s story unfolds. And, oh my goodness, it is a beautiful story.

Oftentimes in life we can’t know how difficult something is until we’re there. That is what we’re experiencing now. The already, but not yet. I’m so excited about this situation. This mother. Her son, which could be our son, to be born in June. (yes…JUNE!) Could this it? Everything that is happening is saying this is our baby. Her story, our story and how they collide is nothing short of incredible. The little and big things that God has done to let us know He is here and IN this and leading us this way… those things make me want to hold onto it like this:

photo 2

But I realized, just as I have so often in life, we aren’t guaranteed anything. Ours is simply to trust and obey. What if God asks me to do a hard thing? Will I be able to walk through this process with this beautiful woman who is making a decision far beyond human means and then walk away without a baby in my arms if she changes her mind? I have to believe that God will meet me there. And I’m learning to hold it more like this:

photo 1

The wait has not gotten easier, as a matter of fact, it’s more intense now that we have a due date. A due date? I can’t even believe I’m writing this! Hear this, readers, GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS! HE IS FAITHFUL! And so now it is my norm to wake up and go to bed with butterflies. To carry around with me this burden on my mind and in my heart. I already love a baby I’ve never met. I did not expect to love his mother so quickly. I do. She is amazing. We are traveling to meet her face to face this weekend. Unbelievable. And yet, real. That IS God’s grace.

I know I’ve mentioned before that this process is costing us in many ways. It should, shouldn’t it? It cost God everything! Our friends and family are working on a fundraiser for us to help with material costs and that is, in a word, humbling. But it’s not about us. And so we’re excited to see what God will do! Check back often because there will be updates about the event which is JUNE 13, 2014 at 6:30 at the home of Dick and Peg Gautraud. You’ll forgive us if we’re not there, right? After all – we might have to go see about a baby…

Fundraiser Time!

Today I’m writing a guest post for the Ashley’s to announce something very exciting…

Spaghetti Dinner/Karaoke Night!

Friday, June 13th from 6:30pm-11:00pm

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

Home of Dr. and Mrs. Richard Gautraud, California, KY

Your ticket covers the cost of a delicious, homemade spaghetti and meatball dinner with bread and salad!  Here are some of the other amazing things we’ll be doing that night (aka other ways to support the Ashley’s adoption):

  • Karaoke – The cost is just $10 for 2 songs or $15 for 4.  Sing a song yourself or nominate someone to sing a song!  OR – if you hate karaoke and want no part of singing in front of everyone you know – you can purchase a $20 all-night LEAVE ME ALONE pass!
  • Cigar Bar – Karaoke not your thing?  You’ll have a great time enjoying the evening and incredible view of the Ohio River just by ponying up your $20 for the Leave Me Alone pass and then puffing on some incredible cigars offered at or below market value!  Donations of cigars are coming in rapidly and it looks like we’re going to have a really great selection.
  • Ice Cream Sundae Bar – The Colonel’s Creamery will be there selling delicious, homemade ice cream!  Treat yourself to a scoop or two… or three!
  • Bake sale – Don’t want to risk the ice cream headache? You’ll still have plenty of fantastic dessert options to choose from!
  • Raffle – We’ll be raffling off several great items throughout the night!

Again, tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.  Your ticket covers the cost of your dinner.  Costs for all of the other completely fun things we’ll be doing that night are additional, so bring cash or check ready to spend for a wonderful cause!

Tickets are on sale now:

Ticket Quantity




the Easter one

Redemption. Isn’t that what God’s story is all about? Redeeming one life at a time by His grace. When I talk to adoption workers, several of them have said to me, “adoption is about redeeming a life.” The more I think about that, the more I learn about God.

You see, when we started this process (I like to think it was years ago when we began praying for this child) I was thinking only of the baby. Holding the baby to my chest, seeing the baby for the first time, bringing the baby home, that first Sunday in church with our newest baby, watching Zach with the baby. But as we go forward in this I’m thinking about this mother. What does her life look like in order for her to be considering adoption? What (or Who) made her choose life? As we’ve received situation after situation, my heart is broken. I’ve mentioned this before but the reality is staggering. As we are praying for these mothers and babies (because generally that’s who is in the “situation”) I am struck by God’s redemption every time. My arms aren’t big enough, my love – not enough. God’s arms ARE. God’s love IS. But I didn’t think it would cut so deeply in my own heart.

And that has made me think…maybe I’m not changing someones life. Maybe Someone is changing mine.

Waiting

In case you’re unaware, this is how the process generally goes in domestic adoption after your home study is done…

When a situation becomes available (a birth mom is choosing to make an adoption plan) an adoptive family with like preferences gets a synopsis of the situation and then lets the agency know whether or not they’d like to be presented (that means they’ll show the birth family your portfolio of pictures and stories to learn about you). Usually medical history, any important issues like drug use or cancer in the family, or an unknown birth father is made known to the adoptive family as well as how much the adoption will be. If the adoptive family says “yes”, their profile is shown along with a handful of others (usually) and at that point, it’s up to the birth family to make a decision about who this child will go to.

Before we began this process I knew that it was a strong possibility that we’d have to wait. A long time, maybe. Since we have four biological children we very well could be the last to be considered in the birth family’s adoption plan. But others assure me it will depend on what the birth momma wants. Maybe she wants a large family. In any event, I prepared myself as best I could that we’d have our “yes” on the table several times. But, oh! The reality of it is different! And I couldn’t know what it would be like until it got here.

We’ve already said “yes”. We’ve already been told “no”. And it’s not the “no” that gets me. It’s the “yes”. If the birth family doesn’t choose us I have peace. I know this wasn’t’ our baby and that God, in His perfect plan, has a baby for us at some time, some place. But in that waiting time, it’s…hard. It’s vulnerable, hopeful, eat at your stomach waiting in which you have a raw dependence on God or you sink into a depressive abyss. I cannot, CANNOT imagine the waiting for other families who have waited MUCH longer than me for kids. I cannot, CANNOT imagine the waiting for dear friends who’ve waited for one child for literally ages. Once you get the information about this baby being born and what the circumstances are it’s heart-wrenching. It’s the reality of the orphan. It’s the honesty of the need.

By faith you put your “yes” out there and wait. Not for the birth family to make a decision, but for God to move. And He does every time, even if it’s a “no”. Because, by faith, we believe our child is out there somewhere. Maybe already alive! And some birth family will feel moved when they look through our profile that we are it! The thought of that! It has been good for me to realize that our “no” is someone else’s “yes”. Someones dream is coming true. It has be hard for me to realize that “no” could mean the baby will go into a foster care system that may do him/her harm. But I was struck this past week with thinking about how God is using my prayers for the babies we’ve prayed for thus far and I am encouraged. I know God hears me on behalf of these children.

I love this child. I have loved this child for years. I have prayed for him or her for years. I know God is in this. It doesn’t make the waiting easy but it does make it important. And bearable. And refining.

Openness

There are a lot of terms we are learning in our adoption process. “Situations”, “presented”, “matched”, “placed”, are all words that are becoming normal lingo in our home. One of the things we’ve been assured that will guarantee us a “match” is our level of openness. We’re willing to accept an infant of any race, gender, the possibility of drug use by the birth mother, a relationship with the birth family, etc. And all of that is really easy to say yes to on paper. But then you get a “situation” and start to consider what that will actually mean in real life. It’s all exciting and wonderful in fuzzy land – but when reality hits – I won’t lie – I’ve been uncomfortable. I realized that I have a preconceived notion about who this baby is we’re waiting for. And I’ve been hit pretty hard with the cold, hard facts. Do I really mean my ideal baby is one that needs a home? (Yes – one application actually asked us to describe our ideal baby) Or am I just a liar? It’s definitely stretching me. One of the things we’ve been praying for is that we’d receive a baby who would otherwise have gone into foster care. That sounds good. But it’s hard. Thing are happening that weren’t in my plan. I didn’t even know I had a plan until it got messed with. On days like today I wonder why in the world we chose to do this in the first place. And then I think of God’s grace. And I can’t say no.

If you bought a t-shirt they should be in within the week! We will work on getting them to you as quickly as possible, and THANK YOU! Your support is helping us bring a baby home!

T-Shirts For Sale!

We are  selling t-shirts (designed by the wonderful Kevin Gautraud) to help with costs for our adoption!  This is what they will look like:

Digital mockup

Isn’t it awesome? The shirts are tri-blend (which means they’re super soft and won’t lose their shape) charcoal gray in color and $20 for XS – XL (add$1 for 2X, $3 for 3X, $4 for 4X) and will directly benefit our adoption fund. If you need a shirt sent to you let us know and we’ll figure out the postage required. ALL ORDERS ARE DUE BY MARCH 12!

NOTE: Size SMALL color will be a little lighter gray than the rest…it’s a long story

Scroll down, choose a size, and click add to cart to buy through paypal or send us your order on Facebook.  Directions for ordering multiple shirts are at the bottom.

Sizes
First & Last Name


Directions for ordering multiple shirts:

1.  Click the drop down box and choose the size of first shirt.

2.  This will take you to Paypal website where you can see the first shirt in your cart.

3.  Click on same drop down box and choose size again for each shirt you want to place in cart.

4.  Paypal will place name in box with each shirt and add corresponding price keeping a running total. If you have concerns about your sizes, message us through Facebook!

 

We’re Adopting!

After years of waiting to see how God would add to our family, the Ashley’s are ready to adopt! How did this all come about? I’m glad you asked…

We first became interested in adoption before we were married and hoped it would be a part of our family story some day. God was faithful to bring us around several different couples who had adopted from places near and far and it was obvious God placed the desire on our hearts as well. We prayed God would give us children in whatever way He would choose and low and behold we had four, beautiful, biological children. Along the way we wondered when the time would come for us to adopt and often we were tempted to begin the process, which was usually followed quickly by a positive pregnancy test!

We started the process of researching and gathering information in September of this year, (believing we were following God’s lead) signed up with a consulting firm in November and then began the home study. Everyone talks about how difficult the home study process can be. And arduous. And long. I will say it is different for everyone and in it I questioned every decision we had made thus far about the adoption. Are we crazy? (yes) Should we  be doing this when we already have four kids? (yes) What about all the unknowns and costs? What will this do to our family? What will I tell him/her when she asks questions? What will other people say? Is this even a good idea? (yes) You see, adoption isn’t our idea. Adoption is God’s idea and He moved Heaven and earth to send His Son here to live and die and live again for us so that we could be adopted. And therein lies our motivation. God loves us so we want to love a little boy or girl who needs a home.

Our home study is now complete after many weeks of learning about patience and providence. We are waiting with hope, again, as we apply to different agencies inside the United States and await a “match”. We covet your prayers for our family for wisdom, discernment, and adjustment as we prepare our home for another child.

If you are reading this blog, chances are you are family, friends, church family, or just plain wonderful. And for that we want to say THANK YOU and WE LOVE YOU!

We can’t wait to introduce you to the next “Ashley baby”!