Hitting The Restart Button (Whenever It is Needed)

This morning my Facebook news feed reminded me that I had a special memory from two years ago. The caption reads, “[My name here], we care about you and the memories you share here. You posted this photo exactly 2 years ago. We thought you’d like to look back on it today.” The memory is a photo, happily announcing my pregnancy with Adam Gabriel (at over 4 months pregnant). I was given the option to share the memory again with all of my Facebook connections. How thoughtful, Facebook. Really.

Pregnancy Announcement_privacy edit

*Edited family name for privacy.

Many of us whom have experienced loss have numerous instances like this. These moments bring out the immature, “life’s not fair” little girl in me. But, today, that’s all I am going to say about that and I am going to move on to brighter subjects because – in the end – that’s all we can really do. Unattach from the negativity, the sadness, the grief…and remember how lucky we are in so many other ways. Remember that we are loved. Remember that all our experiences give us an opportunity to grow in depth and compassion. Hit our restart buttons and press on, clinging to healthier attitudes and actions.

Life actually feels like it’s taking upward turns (slowly, but it’s happening). The days are long, the sun is vibrant, and – as I’ve mentioned – I’ve been given the opportunity to connect with many loved ones. Furthermore, my husband and I completed our first session with a spiritual director yesterday. We are so excited to have some spiritual guidance – some life-coaching so to speak –  from a woman seeming to know what questions to have us ask ourselves in order to help us flourish in congruence with reality and our faith. After ridding ourselves of some things that weren’t serving us anymore in our conversation with her, we felt relaxed.

And, within the hour, we got a call from our adoption agency. The birth mom of the little boy we are matched with completed her adoption training! This means that everything is still on track for a hopeful referral before 2015 closes. The birth mom still needs to wait 30 days and sign her intentions again, but – for today – we have made progress. Today, we notice that we have moved from the intense, relentless grief of losing our son (and three other, younger babies) to a place that feels like there is a crack of light.

July marks a flood of sadness for me ever since losing A.G. The sadness is still there, but THIS July we are making progress on our adoption. THIS July, we are working on our marriage. THIS July, we are learning hard lessons of perseverance and patience. I look around me and see others hurting more than I am. I think of how this Haitian birth mom is experiencing some of her darkest days and making brave decisions for her family. I say prayers for mercy. I say prayers of thanks. I can’t wait to see what next July brings for all of us.

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Colombian Heart A-Crack

Today another tiny crack formed in my heart. I just can’t help but feel it there, wounded with sharp edges like a shattered mirror or broken ice. Today, I finally wrote our adoption agency and said we would not adopt the Colombian twins. I know we basically made this decision weeks ago, but that didn’t stop the tears from falling from my eyes when I typed and, eventually, sent the email that will stop a part of our journey with them.

broken-heart_colombian

I say part of our journey because, in an abstract way, they will always be a part of our family. Not only did my husband and I fall in love with them, but our extended families did too. All of our hearts are yearning for them, although we are lucky enough to have our decision supported because our thought process and maturity are trusted by our loved ones. However, that does not take away the disappointment.

This disappointment leads to the big, unanswerable questions in life. Why is so much suffering tolerated? Why can’t we adopt them all? Why can’t love be enough? Why did my husband and I have a “God moment” when we saw their tiny faces for the first time and called our agency instantly? How can we be 100% sure we aren’t rejecting our divine opportunity to serve beyond ourselves?

I know we are expanding through this experience, but – if you readers are praying type of people, or sending positive energy type of people, or horoscopes or moon phase type of people – please keep these two little ones in your thoughts. These two affectionate, wild, beautiful children have endured a life not deserved, but maybe we can all send out some love to them in our own ways.

I, for one, will continue to pray that I feel the divine calling me with 100% confidence when the timing is right. I don’t know what all this waiting is about, but I am listening to the things that are hard to hear. I will continue to hold these two beauties in my heart, and know that – for some reason – we weren’t their forever family, but that family is out there, being prepared for them now.

You Need a Baby? I Can Get You a Baby – Quick!

The title of the post are words that were spoken to my husband about a year ago when the man he ultimately works for – a man who is wealthy enough to have been on the Forbes Richest People list and has ridiculously influential friends – overheard my husband getting documents notarized for our adoption. Regardless of wealth and influence, it’s pretty shocking to hear someone say they can get you a baby like they might have just asked if you needed more ketchup for your sandwich. Anyway, just to be clear, the method suggested was legal…he just so happens to have a good friend that is an abortion lawyer and finds families for the babies that are too far along to be aborted. (What a crazy world this is.)

Well, two nights ago my husband gets a phone call and it’s Mr. Billionaire himself. He wants to know if we are ready for that baby because a high school girl is three months pregnant and he thought of us. To make matters much more complicated, we have spent the last three weeks in deep contemplation about switching our adoption course to bring home two Colombian, twin, six year olds we randomly saw in a Waiting Children newsletter from our agency. They would be home by Christmas, most likely, and then our family would be set just like that.

And then, there is just one more layer to all of these family planning considerations. We recently semi-stalked and invited over a Haitian couple we knew to live in our area. It was as simple as, “We are adopting from your beautiful country. Would you like to share coffee and pastries and get to know one another?” Well, it turns out they are charming, intelligent, well-grounded, and compassionate people who offered to help us after knowing us for all of about ten minutes. They came to the U.S. as political refugees and still have ties in Haiti. We discussed our process and they left with a promise to try to find out something about our file, trying to see if we can get it moving along. They also told us they would help us learn their language (Haitian Creole) and that, next time we all meet, we will share a Haitian meal. Now if those don’t sound like people you want your future kids to be influenced by…

So, this is the point when my husband and I have to really refocus our priorities, allow a little risk into our lives, and try to discern emotions from destiny. Here is a snapshot of our thoughts:

Domestic, Infant Baby (Due Septemberish): There is a real appeal to many things in this situation: abridged paperwork, no worry about attachment and bonding issues, quick timeline, possible open adoption which has been researched to be best for the child.

Colombian Twins (Due Home around December): Not just faces and names…but the most beautiful faces and names I can imagine; fun ages that don’t require diapers and big plastic toys all over the house (which I will try to avoid regardless); worries about attachment issues, learning delays, physical disabilities, behavioral setbacks, and the ability to overcome these in the long term. Hubby also speaks Spanish so we have an instant connection there; his staff mostly speaks Spanish so we have a community connection with their families as well.

Haitian Child (Due Home TBA – Best Guess is Late 2016): Toddler aged so we won’t miss all of the small, cuddle time and early development stages; connection to Haitians in community; longest wait time; new language development for us; original plan.

So, why did I add “original plan” to the end of the Haitian consideration? Not because we are stuck in our ways, but to remind us of why we chose that path in the first place…

“Original Plan” Considerations:
– Help a young child out of a system that doesn’t offer foster care (Haitian adoption is only consideration of child from an orphanage)
– Add culture to our family by keeping birth country traditions and language alive in home
– Leave room for follow-up decision for family planning (no more kids, one more biological, or one more from a domestic or another international adoption)
– Experience as many parenting stages as possible

Finalization:

Domestic Infant: We decided pretty quickly this wasn’t the right plan for us at the moment. We feel a little crazy making that decision based on the ease of this potential situation, but our hearts just aren’t in it the same way they are overseas, so we have to follow our hearts. No Domestic Infant Adoption For Now.

Colombian Twins: This has proved to be a heartbreaking decision, much like having another miscarriage since we started to fall in love with these little ones, but – after three weeks of research, consideration, and attachment, we believe we have decided Not To Adopt The Colombian Twins. I am positive they will always be in our hearts and we will wonder about them all of our lives. However, my husband and I felt it was necessary to enter a situation with more positive growth potential since this situation offers many exhausting and scary unknowns. Our souls have expanded during this consideration and we realize now a lot of things are negotiable for us, but the bottom line is that we really want a higher probability to raise loving, well-adjusted kids than this situation will give us, especially because this consideration would take so many resources and options off the table for us. This makes us feel a little selfish because these are kids we are talking about, but – in the end – we feel we may have a more positive, influential relationship with a younger, adopted child who we can take out of an orphanage into a family environment.

Haitian Adoption: This one is still in the works. We are hoping our new friends may be able to find out more on our file – and possibly speed up the process for us – but, even if they cannot, this seems to be the most fitting option for us right now. The Colombians have showed us that we are ready for a lot of change; they have given us the gift of coming back to this Haitian process with a new-found confidence and excitement. We now feel so much more ready and equipped to take on one youngish child from another country since we were considering two, older, special-needs kiddos.

One of my favorite spiritual leaders, Richard Rohr, always says you learn the most through suffering. It might sound crazy since it was our choice, but I am truly sad we have decided not to adopt these beautiful twins. However, I feel I have already learned more about myself, my limits, and my passion because they briefly entered my life. I have become more open to a messy, unbridled type of love. I feel more sure about my capacities. And, for that, I will always silently thank them.

The F*!? Is Your Life

GJ_explosion_edited

So, this morning life made me simultaneously giggle and sigh deeply with exhaustion. That photo is my green juice.  That photo is probably a better metaphor for my life than the previous one where the juice is contained in an enormous goblet, resting on a festive napkin. If you’ve read a few of these Stealing Nectar blog posts, you know my “green juice” (a.ka. life) often explodes and leaves me to clean up the mess and salvage what healthy stuff I can from the remaining pieces.

Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, has another lesser known book (but better in my opinion) titled, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.” Even though I had read Wild, I wasn’t inclined to pick up Tiny Beautiful Things until a close friend urged me to do so, saying she was in tears at the gym while listening to the audio version…and somehow I could tell she was trying to tell me something she needed to express to me.

Turns out, my friend was listening to this column included in the book from The Rumpus where Strayed was an anonymous advice columnist. This is a very moving, but longish read about miscarriage. I read this a few short months after losing Adam Gabriel, and I knew this was my friend’s way of empathizing with me. She was telling me that, on some level because of this column, she understood my pain and my great loss. She was using the column as a bridge, extending her support to my lonely, sad island of miscarriage.

As that column was so very important to my healing, so was this one, also included in Strayed’s book. Although it’s, likewise, a difficult and intense read, it has really stuck with me. Strayed so eloquently answers the vague and frustrating question, “WTF?” with the completely heartbreaking truth: “The F*!? is your life.” But, this can be pivotal. When I realized integration of the f*!? (yes, I really can’t write such a grotesque word out like an adult) – the miscarriages, the job loss, the rest of the negative list I am too tempted to type – was the only way through and passed…well, then, you get busy cleaning up the juice on your cabinets, on the floor, all over your robe…and get ready to do it all over again knowing that there are no guarantees in this life, but you’ll be okay anyway.

Stealing Nectar

I believe in prayer. I believe in celebrations and commencements. I believe in eating your vegetables and buying too many swimsuits because – the day you are destined to be on the beach – one might look better than the other four in your closet. I believe in indulging regularly, but in constantly different circumstances – so moderation presents itself in all things.

Stealing nectar. I think life isn’t sweet enough on its own. I think we need to steal the sugar we get in our lives. Work harder. Be gentler. Try to forgive. Pilfer as much good stuff from life as you can because you’ll always get surprise challenges and disappointments…so take a little sun when you can.

I say this as a woman prone to anxiousness and worry. I say this as the advice I’d give myself and, with enough practice, I believe I can begin to live this way without as much effort. I open this corner of the earth – this blog – with a prayer because I believe it’s the way we all begin anything worthwhile, spoken or unspoken.

Opening Prayer

The Great Winds take shape around me
swirling their bodies like modern dancers
asking me to join the prayer

I take their breath
somewhere in the light of things
or was it the dark –

I reach my soul down into myself to find my center
my balance, my spirit, which I’d misplaced
between the store and Lucina’s kitchen
between the earth and clouds

I take their breath to find my own
I wait for nothing to overtake me
to be underwhelmed in the serenity
of my hands, my skin, my space