It's been kind of a bizarre season of life for me. In May, I quit my job at a nonprofit that served kids in care to stay home with Brighten and to start my own consulting business. In June, we found out that we were not going to be able to continue to pursue international adoption in Ethiopia after almost four years in process. Now, I'm learning contentment, which, if I'm honest, is uncomfortable and completely unfamiliar.
When Jason and I began our Ethiopia adoption process in December of 2013, we had no clue what the next several years would bring. We were, admittedly, blindly optimistic. We thought it'd only take a few months to do our home study (try 7.5), be on the waiting list by summer (it was the end of September), and be booking flights to Ethiopia by Christmas 2015. Thankfully, even basking in our optimism, we'd heard that adoption is not for the faint of heart, so we had the foresight to set some "guidelines" - rules for ourselves if the going got tough.
My great-grandfather, Storie, who Brighten is named after, marked timber for a living. All day, every day for years and years we walked the woods, marking timber. Everyday at lunch he'd eat a giant meal that my great-grandmother packed for him, drink a thermos of piping hot coffee, and laid on the toolbox of his truck to take a 20 minute nap in the sun. From everything I've heard about him, he loved his job, and he was good at it. Storie passed away just a few months before I was born, so I never got to meet him in person, however the stories I've heard certainly tell the tale of a man I would have loved to have met.
My, how life gets crazy quickly. In 6 months we have traveled to Texas, met our daughter, brought her home, went back to work, traveled to the West Coast twice, finalized her adoption, put our house on the market, taken our house off the market, and updated all of our international adoption paperwork. Whew, things have been busy. I began the year inspired to post something on my blog at least twice a week. I did that for all of one week and then fell off the bandwagon. Whoops! But here I am again, attempting to do better.
Originally written on December 31, 2016. Held for contemplation and revisited on January 7, 2017.
These days my Goodreads list looks more like celebrity memoirs and less like a high school summer reading list, however, I'm thankful for having read some Charles Dickens in my day. Sometimes, authors give us words that make so much sense when we don't really know how to describe something in our own words. As much as I love Lauren Graham and her latest book is a such a delight, she just doesn't quite paint the picture of 2016. Charles Dickens on the other hand...
Things are much different than they were in our last Christmas update, that's for sure. Last year during this time, we were sick at the news of our first placing agency closing. We were moving from #12 to #81 on the waiting list and we were absolutely devastated.
Around this time last year, things looked a lot different in our lives. We experienced a pretty big setback in our adoption process. Our hearts were broken as we had been rejoicing and dreaming of days that we thought were soon to come, but in the matter of an instant, everything changed. You can read the post I wrote about that here.
Our Brighten Storie...
This is a blog post I've dreamed about writing for the better part of three years. It's the dream half fulfilled, yet my heart feels so entirely full. It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but it is getting more real with every passing moment.
When I was a teenager, I heard a story about children in a developing country who heard about Jesus for the first time. Their biggest takeaway from the gospel is that Jesus is coming back. They were so excited about Jesus's return that they began waiting at the doors and windows of their homes so they didn't miss the opportunity to witness Jesus returning for His Church. I remember longing to wait like that, and feeling a sense of guilt that I didn't.
One of the biggest differences with our domestic adoption and international adoption is the preparation period. With our #journeytojudah in Ethiopia, we know that we'll have anywhere from 6 months to 16 months to prepare for his arrival, even after we're matched. With our #searchingforsunshine domestic process, we could get a call that a birth mother is in her second trimester, or that a baby has already been born, or anything in between. It's been exciting and crazy to think that our lives could completely change (for the better, of course) from one day to the next, or even one hour to the next. That is a new concept for us!
As I crossed over the Alabama state line into Florida, fields of green space on either side, I couldn't help but burst into tears.
Ready. Set. Reset.
It's been a while since we've sent an email. Partly this has been because we haven't had an update and partly because we've been praying that things would change and we'd have an update to give. Well, I'm happy to say that day has come, but we certainly couldn't have guessed that this is what God has in store for us. We are using this email as a kind of reset for us all - for you and for us.
Sometimes I dream about opening my email. This is task that I do literally 500 times a day and typically doesn't seem like that big of a deal. There will be a day, though, that it's the biggest deal of all. I dream of getting a call, being instructed to open my email, and then I dream of seeing your sweet face.
Six summers ago I traveled to a camp in Alabama as a 'leader' for youth group camp. I was in college and thought I was going to be teaching middle schoolers and high schoolers about the bible. I don't know what kind of impact I had on them, but God surly used that week to grow me and prepare me for the life that lay ahead of me.
I realize that's an unconventional title, but if I had to describe my mood for the last three months, this would be it: I HATE WAITING. I've had a bad attitude, I'll admit, but I haven't been able to kick it. Ever since we got the news about the new waiting list and the delay, I've had a bad attitude. My heart hurts, and my heart is tired of waiting.
Yesterday I was listening to my favorite podcast and the host was interviewing a mom who is waiting for a referral from the Philippines and who has been in the process for four years. Sometimes it's hard to listen to people talk about their experiences because every adoption experience is different and it's difficult to not compare our experience to someone else's.
Happy New Year! We probably shouldn't say this, but we;re not too sad to see 2015 behind us! It was a good year for the most part, but God really stretched us as He worked in our hearts through new mercies that were completely unforeseen to us. We look forward to 2016, hoping and praying that maybe this is the year. We doubt we'll be able to travel to Ethiopia twice and bring home Judah in the next 361 days, but we are hopeful that we will have a referral by 2017. Of course, that's definitely a hope, and as we have learned over the past few years, nothing is guaranteed or set in stone in the world of adoption.
A Hole of Hope
Merry Christmas! We must admit, this is one of the more difficult updates that we've written for our adoption. Today marks the two year anniversary of beginning the process of adopting from Ethiopia. We had high hopes that this would be the year we were able to announce that we're bringing our son home, or that we have a referral, or something. But this is not that update, and this is not that year.
God is so gracious. He continues to provide in the details of our lives and we are so undeserving. Yesterday we found out that there were no referrals this month, so we are still #12 on the waiting list. I have to admit that I felt a little like I'd been been kicked in the gut. We've been praying for a referral by the end of the year, and yesterday made that previously seemingly achievable hope seem less likely. Well, boo. Of course we know that God is not bound by a waiting list, and that all things work together in His timing. We know this, but it's hard.
I'm as much of a daddy's girl as I am a mommy's girl. And I'm as much of a mommy's girl as I am a daddy's girl. I have fantastic parents. As an adult, I look back on my childhood and I have so much respect and admiration for how they raised my sisters and me. But if I'm honest, I had the same opinion growing up (except for a few times here and there as a teenager when I thought I knew more than they did). I've always known my parents were good at their job, and I've always looked forward to trying to emulate their parenting skills.