Getting over the loss of a child is just something you don’t do. We’ll never “get over” our son going to Heaven before coming here to earth. It’s hard. And everyone around you might get over it more quickly than you and still you’re left with your heart aching, your arms empty. Or your dearest friends don’t get over it and that has it’s own ache. Many couples have faced adoption loss, or the loss of a child. We’re not unique. And I keep telling myself that my reality of having our baby home isn’t true reality. God always meant to have him for reasons I won’t really understand. And I don’t need to. But it’s still hard.
It would have been easier for us to pretend this wasn’t our baby. That this was only the birth mom’s baby and we went just to help her through the toughest day of her life. But that didn’t hold up for long. Especially because everyone treated us like his parents. Even his sweet momma. It is amazing grace that the three of us are grieving together. I had one of my worst days yet this past week. So did she. We both found out later that we had grieved in the exact same way for our baby boy on the exact same day. There is hope somewhere in that.
Now the wait continues. We are not giving up on adoption. Not because we need a son. Not because the next child will replace the loss. No – that doesn’t happen. But because we believe this is what we are supposed to do. We believe in a God who can redeem even the deepest aches. It was already hard before this situation came our way. But God didn’t promise it would be easy. He’s not even promising it now that we are stepping back out into situations that are sad and needy all over again. But He’s good. He is very good.
Having our girls around us is healing. We didn’t think it possible to be more thankful for them than we already were. We ARE. So many layers to this. There’s no greeting card for losing the adopted child you thought you’d have. Life has lots of things like that. But we are hopeful. Sincerely, we are. There is a part of me that would really like to write the next chapter – but I know that wouldn’t go well for any of us. So we leave it in His hands again and wait. And now the wait has more meaning than ever.
It is with unspeakable sadness that I am writing to say that we did not get to bring our baby boy home. Neither did his momma. He went straight to the arms of Jesus. On Tuesday at her appointment the nurse could not find a heartbeat. We were on a family vacation in Indiana at an amusement park. I checked my phone because I was expecting news from her. Instead I saw that the agency had tried to call and left texts. I called immediately. Everything after that felt like a nightmare. She was already at the hospital and the staff would begin induction later in the day and give her more meds on Wednesday to get labor started. We left Indiana and drove to Kansas, not for the trip we were hoping for, but to walk through the next several hours with a woman we had come to love.The events that followed were as precious to me as any birth I’ve been a part of – just in a very different way. I will always remember holding her hand as that beautiful boy made his entrance into the world. I will always remember the silence of the delivery room, save the weeping of those who loved him most. She could not hold him at first. With Zach’s arms around me, I did.
I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. Walking around in a daze, confused and broken hearted. This doesn’t make any sense. Many of you intimately know the ache of losing a child. It has changed us forever. We don’t know where we go from here. We believe there is a baby we are supposed to bring home. But we also believe we have a son in heaven. We have full assurance we were called into this situation to walk through these last couple months with this woman. Our relationship was immediately so close, so amazing. It was for this time, this reason. God is working His incredible grace in her. The gospel is real. This was no accident. These are the truths I am clinging to.
I wrote in the last post that the family of God was bringing this baby home. The truth is, he is already home.
I’ve been feeling…torn. Torn between my desire to see this baby in my arms and my home, to smell his sweet head and cry a thousand tears of thankfulness…and then there’s the reality of his beautiful mother. Broken-hearted and grieving a significant loss. I can’t even wrap my mind around that. Words fail at a time like this but “bittersweet” gets at it pretty well. Last night God showed me something. Loving this child IS loving his momma. Every time I change a diaper, calm cries, and feed hunger I’m loving her, too. So even though I’ll be grieving with her, I feel a freedom now to love this little one like crazy. Because that’s why she chose us.
I’ve noticed that the closer the fundraiser gets, the more uncomfortable I become. Last night over a dozen of our close friends came to our home, rolled up their sleeves and made meatballs. Like really good, homemade, organic meatballs. I watched them grind fresh meat right on my counter! Part of me wanted to run away and hide because I don’t deserve this. I’m not worthy of this love! That’s true – but it’s not about me. And I certainly can’t let pride come in front of what God is doing. That’s really what is compelling our friends and family – God’s love! So instead of feeling like it’s all these people with their arms outstretched to us – it’s all of us with our arms outstretched to Him who is truly in control. We will be able to say, unhindered, the family of God brought this baby home. Not Zach or me. Not our dear friends who’ve worked so hard and prayed faithfully. God’s love in the people around us will bring this child home. At least that is the hope.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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:
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:
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…
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:
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.
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.