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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finding Joy... and ditching the "what if's"

Yesterday I realized something.  I am a worrier.  I don't mean to be.  I try really hard to look for the positive in life but I also spend a great deal of time worrying about what "could" happen.
When Berrett and I started our married life, I was so hopeful for a half dozen kids and a big house bursting at the seams with their friends, their hobbies and probably a few pets to add to the chaos.  Then we began to worry... "What if we could never get pregnant?"
As time went by and we knew pregnancy wasn't going to happen, we changed our view to one of adoption.  We prayed, we fasted, we filled out mountains of paperwork and pages of questions on the Agency's profile page.
We agonized over which photo's to share and how to write a letter that would help the birth family choose us.  The "what If's" snuck in when we had two failed adoptions.. but when we finally brought our Maddi home, it seemed like all our dreams had come true.  They had!!
We had our beautiful baby girl!!
Still in the back of my mind there continues to be some "what if's"?  What if the birth father fights us?  What if the judge drags his feet?  What if we are not great parents?  What if our case workers think we are doing a lousy job?  What if Maddi ends up not liking us?  and so on and so on!!  It really is silly some of these questions.  The reality is that Maddi loves us.  We are doing our best to be good parents.  The court stuff is taking longer then we expected, but we have our baby in our home and in our arms.
I happened to read a post on Facebook yesterday that a friend shared.  It was about a mom who was dealing with her son and his special needs.  I spent most of nap time reading over her blog and weeping over all of the stuff she had to deal with.  I kept thinking about how I would feel in her place.  She Loves her boy.  She struggles and has almost lost him several times.  They don't even have a name for what is wrong at this point, and yet she looks for the joy!
Last night I put our Maddi on the floor and laid down next to her on our favorite quilt.  I watched her roll and giggle.  I made funny faces to make her laugh harder.  I played "this little piggy" on her toes.  I brushed her hair and kissed her cheeks and marvelled at the miracle I held in my arms.  Just 4 and 1/2 months ago I was a wife, daughter, sister and friend.  Within a few days of her being born, I became what I always dreamed of.  A mommy.  Yes, it will be wonderful to have a judge sign off on the papers that make her legally ours.  And I will be rejoicing to have her sealed to our family forever... but neither of those things make me any more her mommy then I am now.  She has grown in my heart for so long.  I just didn't know her until we met on the day of her birth.  I am going to do my best to put aside the worries and just look for the joy!!
She brings so much joy with her!!  We feel so blessed!! The Lord can take care of the worries... I am just going to love my Maddi girl and look for the wonder and joy she brings to our lives!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The first night... and three months later.

My dearest darling daughter,
I think back to the first night you were alone with daddy and me.  We were in a hotel, You were asleep in the play and pack.  I think I was up about every hour checking on you and your breathing.  You looked so tiny and so vulnerable.  I measured every breath, every sigh. My heart was filled to bursting with love for you!  I must have sent up a dozen prayers in gratitude for having you with us, prayers for your safety, prayers for your health, prayers that we would know how to take care of you.
Tomorrow you will be three months old.  I still check on you throughout the night, although I have relaxed quite a bit.  Maybe just once or twice a night.  I still measure every breath and every sigh.  My heart is still full to bursting with love for you, only my heart has grown and grown.  Every day your daddy and I love you even more.  I still send up prayers of gratitude, prayers of safety, prayers for your health, and I pray often to know best how to care for you, how to raise you.  Heavenly Father has the ultimate parenting manual... prayer!!
We have come to know you better and better,  I can tell when you are asleep just by the sound of your breathing.  I recognize the cry you make when you are hungry.  I know that if you are given the chance to wake up on your own in the morning you wake up so happy!!!  You smile, giggle and entertain your daddy and I greatly!!
You kick your legs and make this high pitch squeal when you are happy and excited!  You love to be held.
You love to snuggle into daddy's arms, early in the morning while I get ready for work.  I love to walk into the bedroom and see you asleep curled in your sleeping daddy's arms.
You love music, and love to be sung to.  You love to be read to as well!  You  sleep better after your good night story and pj's and prayers.
We can't wait to see what the future holds. We can't wait to see who you will be!! Who ever that is.. We will love you more and more each day, each month, each year.
We love you our darling girl!!

A poem for Maddi...

"Pretty little precious one, snuggled in my arms.
Who knew how you could capture me,
with all your quiet charms.
The glowing smile, the shining eyes,
Those little noises...your baby sighs.
You are ever changing, my darling tiny one.
Please don't grow up too fast...
our time has just begun.
I press your body close to me.
Our hearts soon beat in time.
I can't but feel a wonder,
That you are finally mine.
A dream we carried openly,
but feared would never come.
Your life is now our miracle,
from God and His blessed Son.
You did not grow inside me,
you grew within our hearts.
And soon for all Eternity
A family that never parts."
Written by her mommy, on Aug 15-2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Introducing our Daughter..

 On June 18th at 7am Utah time, we received the call that our expectant mom was in labor.  I called the mom's I tend for and let them know I was on my way to our baby.  Berrett emailed work and we began to pack the car.  At 8am, we received a call from the natural grandma and we heard our daughter born over the cell phone while standing in our car port. 
Its amazing how from that many miles away we felt bonded to our little girl.  We had to drop off mail keys to a friend as Berrett had medicine arriving that week that had to be refrigerated.  We received a few pictures through text of our beautiful little Maddi girl.  We stopped long enough at Berrett's parents to show them pictures and headed out on the longest trip of our lives.  We lived on power bars and bottled water.  Only stopping for bathroom breaks when we gassed up.
We had problems with our car in Vegas.  It overheated and we were afraid to drive it any further.  We stood in tears in a casino trying to decide what to do.  We were only 3 1/2 hours away from our baby but the temp was over 109 F,  we rented a car.  Begged the security at the casino to let us leave our car.  Repacked the rental, let our expectant family know and headed out again.  It took us a lot longer then anticipated.  We hit construction, Dust storms and we arrived at 10 pm.
We were lost in a unfamiliar hospital for 20 to 30 minutes.  They were not going to let us in because it was after visiting hours, but Berrett told them we were adopting a baby girl and we were not waiting till morning!! I am afraid he was not polite about it.  We held our little Marie or Maddi as we call her at 10:30 pm.

Now it may seem that we had some bad luck on our way but I can only see the blessings.  The mom's we tend for had back up plans available so they didn't miss work.  We were not able to be at the birth of our daughter but we did hear her born.  Our car broke down right next to a casino and a car rental place.  We had generous friends and family that help provide the money for the car rental.  We arrived safe and sound and our baby arrived safe and sound.  Other Miracles happened but I will save those for another post.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sweet hour of prayer

I remember as a small child feeling the sweetness of prayer. I completely trusted that Heavenly Father heard and answered my prayers.  I remember while living in the Netherlands getting on the wrong school bus after school for Primary.  Instead of talking to the driver and explaining what had happened, another girl and I got off the bus at one of the stops and began to walk.  We would stop and pray together over and over again as we walked through a unfamiliar neighborhood.  We were guided by the spirit to the church house and we were only a little late for primary.
I still continued to pray over the years but some how it wasn't as easy for me.  On my mission I received answers every day to prayers.  I had some very spiritual moments where I felt directed and guided.  In callings in the church I felt directed as well, but some how when it came to my own personal needs I sometimes had a hard time relying on the arm of the Lord.
One of the many blessings of this adoption journey is that I have regained some of the child like trust I had in Heavenly Father so long ago.  I truly KNOW that I am His child.  That he wants to bless me.  That He understands the pain and fear we have experienced through our infertility and our failed adoption placements.
I feel His comfort and His peace. When we were led to our expectant mom and her family we felt such a connection.  We had been told by other couples who have adopted that they KNEW when this was their child.  I feel strongly that this little girl could be our daughter, as long as her mom and family continue to feel committed to the adoption plan.  I also know that Heavenly Father is with them as well.  He holds them in the hallow of His hand at this time.
I am so grateful that our expected little miracle will have the chance to know her "first" family through out her life. I know they will always pray for her as well.  Prayer is an important part of their family life.
  I also hope that I can help her to know the sweetness of prayer.  I hope she never doubts that she is special and loved by us but most especially by her Father in Heaven.

"Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father's throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter's snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
And oft escaped the tempter's snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
 Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since he bids me seek his face,
Believe his word, and trust his grace,
I'll cast on him my ev'ry care
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
I'll cast on him my ev'ry care
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Windows of Heaven

The entire time we have been on this adoption journey, we have sought out different ways to raise extra funds for travel and extra expenses not covered by our loan. The Loan only covers the fee's from the agency. We have to raise everything else. We tried selling my book, flowers, seeds, cookies and not much was raised. Last year we had a conversation with our Bishop. He promised us that if we were faithful about attending our meetings, going to the temple but most especially paying our tithing that the Lord would pour out blessings for us. We have done our best to faithfully follow his council. We knew that we would have a extended stay in our daughters home state. We had been told by our case workers that it could be a month. We were blessed with a place to stay, and transportation, but Berrett was really worried about missing so much work. He had explored a lot of options. He could get me settled with the baby with some friends and then fly home to work. Or he could possibly spend time at some of the Internet cafes in the area and Internet commuter work from out of state. He was sad about both options because it would mean time away from me and our baby. He wanted to spend time with her and bond too. Our friend Maria had a idea. She wondered if we could hold a yard sale and accept donated items from friends and family and try to raise some money. We thought it would be a great option. We hoped that maybe we could raise enough to pay for a few tanks of gas. Another friend, Alli, offered her empty basement and part of her garage as a place to store donated items. People in our ward and community seemed interested in helping. I was at Alli's on Thursday evening and there was a decent amount of stuff donated. All day Friday, Alli text ed me telling me that a lot of stuff was coming in. Friday evening it was raining and rain was forecast for Saturday. We decided to move ahead and hold the yard sale anyway. Saturday we awoke to rain. Lots of rain. We went to Alli's and could not believe how much stuff had been donated. Members of our ward showed up with camping gazebo's and tarps, and set up places in the yard to place the items for sale under cover. Many ladies in the ward donated bake sale items. We got everything set up an Maria told me she had asked for a certain amount in her prayers that morning. I honestly thought she was asking too much. But I knew that amount would truly help us, so I silently prayed for the same. People showed up and bought items. A dear sister placed a ad on KSL for a sleep number bed that had been donated. We raised 300.00 alone on the sale of that item. I had old room mates show up to buy and sale. We had primary children selling baked goods and treats. We had members of our ward cheerfully stand in the rain and sell... sell.. sell!! I gathered all the large bills and checks about 1/2 hour before we intended to close the yard sale. The tears poured down both of our faces as we counted the money and realized the Lord had given us our goal and a little bit more. There was still a lot of stuff left to sell. We stayed open longer and my dear friends kept the sale open even after Berrett and I had to leave for a baby shower his family was throwing for us. We came back that night and thanked a exhausted Maria and her family for all their hard work. We picked up the rest of the money and went home and counted it again. The Lord had met our goal and then doubled it. We felt the windows of Heaven open for us, and it was truly a miracle!! If we are careful and use the money we have already saved as well, Berrett won't have to worry about working while we are away. I know the Lord sent earthly angels to help us and that He blessed us as well with generous customers. There was truly not enough room to receive it, our hearts were so full!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

" Courage is found in unlikely places." J. R. R. Tolkien

This weekend we had the chance to spend time with a truly courageous person. Our expectant mom in CA. She had expressed a desire to know us before the birth of her baby. We were happy to make the road trip. We packed our bags Thursday night, after our ward baby shower and headed out after work on Friday. We drove most of the way, stayed the night in Nevada and continued to her home on Saturday morning. Its hard to explain how you feel when you are going to meet a woman who could change your life. A mixture of blind date, job interview and a chance at the Lottery all rolled into one!! We all felt pretty shy at first but soon we began to connect. She has a wonderful, supportive family. We went to lunch and talked and we also got to know our baby's big sister. She is so sweet and cute and she stole Berrett's heart from the very beginning. "J" has a son as well and we loved him too. As we spent time talking to "J" I couldn't help but admire her courage. She loves this expected baby so much, but for reasons I won't share, adoption seems to be the best choice. She has dreams for herself and her children, and she deeply wants a daddy her children can count on. I think she knows that Berrett will be that kind of daddy to our little Maddi. She loves her enough to let her go. That takes the greatest kind of courage, to put someone else's needs before your own. So this weekend I found courage in a unlikely place, in the face of Maddi's natural mommy. I pray that our daughter grows up always loving her for that type of courage. I also hope that I can be the type of Mommy who teaches her daughter to have that type of courage.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Epic Excitement and courageous actions.

Courage with His help

We posted last week about our blessed news.  What I didn't tell you was the reaction of our Ward (LDS church congregation) earlier that day.  
A few people knew ahead of time and were very careful to keep our secret.  It wasn't that we didn't want to share the news, but until things felt like they were progressing with the family and the expectant parents, we didn't feel comfortable sharing.  We have been through this twice before.  The first time was many years ago, early in our marriage.  We were connected to a friend of a friend who's foster son and girl friend were looking to place their baby through private adoption.  At the time Berrett felt very unsure of this situation, but because of his great love for me, he let me move forward.  We begin to email each other and I began to dream of that little baby.  They lived in southern Utah and we made a special trip over our anniversary weekend to visit.  We met up with them for lunch and talked for about 2 hours.  They tell you in the adoption classes that YOU KNOW when its right and YOU KNOW when its wrong.  This one felt wrong.  Berrett let me be quiet for a time after we met up and then lovingly told me, "you know this isn't our baby?"  I knew in my heart he was right but had to cry it out for a bit before I could admit it.  I will admit to this day I think about that baby girl.  She would be 12 in July.  Her parents decided to marry and raise her.  I pray she is happy and healthy.
Then last year we were approached by someone we know who was thinking about placement.  We did pray about it and received the answer "go ahead, but remember she has her agency."   I won't go into that situation much, except to say that there were warning signs that we ignored.  She had little or no family support about the adoption and she resisted meeting with the case workers at LDS family services.  She became very ill through the last few months of her pregnancy and I wonder now if it wasn't her mind telling her body to reject the idea of adoption.  For some women it is truly not an option.  I do understand that.  Once again we cried, we grieved for that dream we had almost seen coming true.
Now we are doing this again.  This time feels different.  The expectant mom has family support, she is keeping her appointments with the case workers.  There has been open communication between her family and Berrett and I.  We are hopeful but cautious!!  She still has her agency as well.  That baby is hers until she says it isn't and signs the papers.  Still her mother encouraged us to share the news with family and friends.  when we told our families week's ago, they cried, they hugged us and we had nieces and nephews jumping up and down.
When we told our Ward "family" there were buckets of tears, tons of hugs and handshakes and epic excitement.  We now have over 150 members of the congregation praying for us and for the expectant family.  They have been praying for us the whole time we have been on this adoption journey, but now their prayers are more specific.  What is remarkable to me is they truly care about our expectant mom as well.  They have expressed what great courage she must have to make such a choice.  We agree.  "J" is (what I will call her in the blogging world) very courageous to make this decision.  Her family is as well.  They know what it is to be grandparents and aunts and uncles, so they must have breaking hearts to think of this little one not being raised in their family. They also have very good reasons to make this choice.  We pray that the Lord comforts them and blesses them for it.  We pray for J, her baby and her family every day.  I find myself in quiet moments sending a prayer for her multiple times a day.  How can you love someone so much that you hardly know?  I think about the atonement and how the Savior stepped in and carried all our sin, all our grief and all our pain, so we could be with Him and Heavenly Father.  He made it possible for the children of our Heavenly Father to be Eternal families.  Now J is going through pain of her own.  She is giving this great gift to us and her own pain and suffering must be overwhelming.  She may choose to make it possible for that little girl to have a Eternal family.  It is still her choice.  It was still the Saviors choice to accept as well.  I pay tribute to her great courage and great love for her unborn baby girl.  If she chooses us to parent her baby, we promise to love her and raise her to be as loving and as courageous!! We also want her to know of the great network of family and friends who will be there to help us care for her.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.  She will have a great Bishop, great primary teachers and YW leaders.  She is loved by so many long before she is even here!!  We hope to see you soon, Little Maddi. We are excited to share in your life!!

J consider yourself hugged!!!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Hope is the abiding trust that Heavenly Father fulfills His promises."

I believe it was about a year ago that I heard a brother in our ward share this quote in a talk in Sacrament.  I quickly jotted it down because I had  often felt like I was losing hope for the promises I wanted fulfilled. The hope that Berrett and I would some day be parents.
Well we have had our up's and down's and I have often picked up that piece of paper and read it and silently asked Heavenly Father to help me to keep my hope alive and to believe He would fulfill His promises.
I can tell you today He keeps His promises!! A expectant mom and her parents and family have chosen us to adopt her baby girl.
We want to protect her privacy and the privacy of our future daughter so we won't be sharing very many details.  She is due in late June, early July and we are very excited!
We ask you our friends and family to pray for her, to pray for the father and their families.  Pray that they may be comforted and at peace with their decision.  Please pray that they have all that they stand in need of at this great time of change.  Also please pray that the Lord will pour out blessings on their heads for sharing this beautiful gift with us. Please pray for us as well.  Adoption is costly and we will have many changes to make in our lives as well.  I will say it again though, "Hope is the abiding trust that Heavenly Father fulfills His Promises."  I KNOW He does.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If I keep the commandments I can live with Heavenly Father again.

It's my turn to do Sharing Time in Primary this week.  We are talking about keeping the commandments.
I love to use pictures, games or object lesson's to make it entertaining, memorable and easy to understand.
I was reading back through previous "Friend" magazines and came across this.
I loved the concept...
but needed it large enough for the whole primary.  I also didn't have the time to color it as well. So I made my own.
our boat... or life on earth
Pictures of the commandments... please realize that they include some modern ones from today's prophets as well as the original 10 commandments.

Keep the commandments anchor

Commandment bubbles or links with the script to match the pictures.
  I am going to start the same way the Sharing time lesson is laid out.  Writing the sentence on the board and having the kids guess the song while the pianist plays it.  Then I intend to share the history of the song as outlined in the above link.
I am going to ask the children if they have ever been in a boat on the water and talk about how the waves can make the boat move and be unsteady.
The circles with the words in them will be links from the boat to the anchor.  I will have the children throw the anchor over the back and I will clip one of the pictures to it.  As they bring it up we will match it to the scripted bubbles or links in the chain. We will talk about how obeying the commandments can anchor us from the temptations of life.  As we keep those commandments it will help us to return to live with Heavenly Father.

My ship on the ocean with the word bubbles and anchor and some funny little fish watching.

I also included some funny little fish and want to point out that times we don't know who is watching us and what we can teach them by being a good example After all the pictures have been matched, I will tie the anchor at the bottom and talk about how the ship is now secure. I will end by bearing testimony of the peace I feel when I obey the commandments and how they have protected me from temptation.  I am thinking I might focus on scripture study and talk about the song "Scripture Power."
Since this is just a plan in the works, I will have to let you know how it goes.

Well... it worked great!! Really a fun lesson!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Count your many blessings....

I will admit that when it comes to infertility it can be difficult to find ray's of hope in your life. For instance-at the moment my first counseler in primary had her 2nd baby in January. My 2nd counseler is expecting her first in May. Our chorister is expecting in Msy- our activity day leader is expecting in May. I am surrounded by women who have given birth or who are expecting! In the past I have let myself become bitter at every announcement. And yet the only person I hurt was me!!! By withdrawing from those around me who have reason to rejoice I lose the chance to share their joy and their friendship. We don't know the stories behind these blessed events. One of my dearest friends has two children and yet has experienced many miscarriages. I sat and cried with her recently over her latest one. I learn about women of great strength when I let myself be a part of their joy or pain. My friend lost her baby later in a pregnancy the she had ever had before. She is grieving and yet when I called her for some advise and comfort about a situation I was in she put aside her pain and gave me some of the best words of advise and comfort. My 2nd counseler has struggled this entire pregnancy with morning-noon-and night sickness!!! And yet she withstands it because she wants to be a mom! Adoption has its struggles. Waiting- worrying about the expectant mom- praying this time it will all work out. But no matter how they get here each child is a joy!! I decided long ago I could choose pain or I could choose joy. So bring on the birth announcements- bring on the baby showers- I choose to count my blessings and to live with joy!!!!