It’s a Match!

After 1.5 years in process to adopt from Haiti…we received a match! It appears that we will be parents to a little boy!!!!

Haiti Announcement Card_Blog

Now, this news comes with a lot of disclaimers, but basically what needs to be relayed is that a) this could fall through and b) matches like this often do. But, where would we be if we didn’t celebrate these moments, especially if this is the one?

My first reaction to this news was overwhelming relief…the kind you get that is accompanied by a gulpy cry at the back of your throat. THANK GOD my soul was saying with every fiber in my body. Now this time, unlike last time, I actually told my husband he was having a boy seconds after I heard the news. Then there is that moment where you ask each other, “How do you feel about a boy, honey?” (Well, as we have covered, we’ve never experienced this before, even though I have given birth to a boy, but we’ve all seen this play out in movies and asked others having kids a similar question.) At the same time, we kind of looked at each other, and in the most affirming, overwhelmingly adamant way we both communicated we couldn’t have cared any less about whether the match was a boy or a girl. From our perspective, that is just the least of our thoughts.

It is, however, so exciting to think about all the fun styles his hair will be capable of, how we will decorate his room, dream about what his interests will be, what his name is, and what he looks like. We won’t have any more information until we get an official referral (hopefully in about 6 months).

And, of course, there are things that aren’t as fun to think about like the fact that there has been another tragic, racist, terrorist act that caused destruction in a SC church (and in a community, and in a nation) this week. I am not concerned about being up for the challenge of raising a dark skinned male in America, but I am concerned about his safety. Like all caring parents, I want to ensure my child’s safety, but when his skin color may be a target for someone else’s unwell, hateful thoughts…that kills me inside.

So, even though that juxtaposition has a place in my thoughts, we have a lot of love and positivity to celebrate this week. There is progress! Hope has nestled up beside us, giving us a warm and fuzzy feeling once again! It’s been a while and I was fighting resentment, but now I am back to dreaming. I have a lift in my spirit. There is a little boy, alive and well, being prepared for our home!

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A Mixed Bag

Life is always a mixed bag. I am trying not to live in a dualistic mindframe…but it’s sooooo hard. When my dog has lost a third of his body weight since almost dying last spring and there seems no clear way to get him to gain it back, it’s really difficult not to label that “bad.” When Adam’s due date is approaching and I can’t stop thinking about how he should be celebrating his first birthday and his first Christmas, I struggle with finding joy in that. When I come home to a sick, sad puppy and an email saying “no news” from Haiti, I struggle. Really, I am just tired of being sad and tired of worrying that anything living near me may be pulled from me sooner than I am ready.

That’s half of it. The other half is overwhelming gratitude. Last week my husband and I spent a week in Palm Springs for a work function of his. I spent my days absorbing the sunlight, running, and laughing more than I have in months, or maybe even years. I spent nights with more laughter, lots of dancing, and plenty of good food and drinks. I have complete flexibility in my life. I have inspiring people whom push me to keep learning and keep being positive…and, just show me love when I need that, too.

So, how can the worst times also be the best times? I guess I keep being shown that the “worst” times are really not the worst. The “best” times come with a fair amount of frustration or sadness on the side. This is life. I seem to be living it deeper in both “directions” (if we really want to label…or, if I can’t stop myself from labeling, I should say…). I don’t trust it will go back (to life being less complicated). I will have to keep changing, keep growing, and keep accepting the unstability. I will have to keep working on my patience. I will have to keep loving the seemingly unlovable days, and the gorgeous days, that make me question “why me?”.

I am so happy my loved ones still ask me to celebrate their pregnancies, their job successes, or just to spend some time with them road tripping along the Gulf Coast this next summer. When I want to scream and throw in the proverbial towel, I get to celebrate someone else’s joy or get a truckload of “oh my gosh my life is crazy good how is this my good fortune?” This is life. It’s the “good;” it’s the “bad;” it’s the lessons we take with us from the experiences. This mixed bag is mine, and I will reach my hand deep into the contents, not knowing what thrills or scares will grab me next.

Mind Mania

When I go “into my head” too often, that’s always a sign I need to recenter, meditate, and find a way to rest my spirit. I feel a creeping in of my ego. I find doubt. Anxiety. Manic or half-thought thoughts. Catching it is one thing, but taming it is a whole other.

In the last few weeks, I have been sloppy with my words. Sloppy, or just not wise enough to choose better ones. I have been exhausting (to myself as well as others) with my repetitive focus, and I haven’t left enough room for deep breaths. The necessity of patience and comfort with ambiguity feels like a slow death….and I know that’s a result of a narrow perspective. There is openness and light here if I welcome it.

My husband and I went back to another specialist and genetic counselor and, once again, had it confirmed that we’ve had the supreme package of bad luck with our pregnancies. We are at the point of diminishing returns for any procedures/tests we would opt to have (results < effort), but – despite the lack of clarity – we felt a strange sense of relief, knowing that we are still “normal” in doctors’ terms.

However relieved, this new chapter of our life has reminded us that a long period of waiting is ahead of us. Many families have waited 3, 4 and 5 years to bring their children home from Haiti. We are open to building our family in so many different ways, but that kind of openness is not enough; there is much more patience needed. We need to be open to a timing that is divine and does not heed to chronological ticks and tocks. Although we are grasping at anything to aid in that preparation, there is much beyond our control, sight, and wisdom. In some ways it is very comforting because the responsibility doesn’t rest on our shoulders; in other ways it’s driving us nuts as we think we are ready for more purpose and responsibility NOW! (And, even as I typed that last sentence, I know I will look back at it, shaking my head, thinking, “Why didn’t I enjoy the quiet!”)

I feel a shift is actually upon us, though. This tension and rattling energy feels like we are at the top of the roller coaster’s hill, about to fly down the other side, feeling the wind blow our hair around with happy smiles and shrieks of joy. I don’t know what is on the other side of this uphill exactly, but I feel it’s just a breath away. I hope this really is the case.

So, I will calm my mind with prayer, exercise, good food, and connection. I will live purposefully, and I will anticipate the goodness that is upon us – now and that which is a moment away.

It Is All a Gift

Two methotrexate injections and three weeks later, I am still technically pregnant. Never would I have thought this blip of a healthy pregnancy would have turned into this – so far – 11 week journey. I haven’t known really what to write because I just feel a little stuck. Physically stuck, emotionally stuck, spiritually stuck. Exhausted.

All of this is okay, though. I am trying to accept the pain and the vulnerability I feel when more and more people are invited into my pain journey. If we don’t allow our stories to be told for the purpose of connection, what is the point of the pain anyway?

So, I am learning to let go. When my sister tells her friend at the gym, or my mom tells the woman I have never met whom has also gone through similar fertility pain, I don’t tell them to stop sharing. When the woman next to me on the plane asks bluntly if my husband and I have had trouble having kids since we don’t have any almost nine years into our marriage, I don’t mask the hurt in my eyes and my voice when I give her a simple, “Yes.” She may not understand my journey completely, but she understands struggle through her own lens, and she may understand another person’s pregnancy struggles better if I allow my story to be told.

I am not ready to offer my story up on say, my Facebook page, but I do want to use my experience to lessen another’s feelings of vulnerability, loneliness, and heartbreak. So, as uncomfortable as it is, I am fighting the reaction to control the sharing. I don’t think anyone actually wants to be the poster child for miscarriages, but – if this is a way I can help others – I will do my best to share in the moments that count.

As my family structure will most likely look different than I once imagined, my struggle will be easier to identify. I imagine wheeling a cart of groceries around in the store with my Haitian child and possibly another internationally adopted child. Once in a while, I am sure someone’s eyes will catch mine and I will get that look. The look laced with a little compassion and a little question, wondering if I couldn’t have biological children. The part that bothers me about this is that having adopted children is not a second choice! However, maybe the fact that people will identify a possible struggle more quickly will allow me to have more opportunities to connect and even possibly help others when they are stumbling around in the dark, confusing period I am in now. Maybe I will have more moments to share the pure joy and excitement I have for my uniquely crafted, god-given family.

To all of this, I pray to remain open, forgiving, compassionate, and honest. It is all a gift.

Contemplating Desire Versus Calling

I don’t know how to start this post. Do I just come out with it – that I am yet again/regretfully/humiliatingly/confusingly miscarrying? That it feels a little like selfishness; a little like shame; a little like we should have known better, even though each doctor keeps telling us we should have no trouble having a biological child soon?

Do I add that I just found out today that last Friday – the day I found out my hcg levels had dropped in half – our dossier had also been stamped “received” in the Haitian government office in charge of making child referrals? I have said before that I don’t believe in coincidences…

My soul work lately has been a lot about trying to figure out the difference between desires and divine calling. When do we decide a desire (e.g. having a biological child) isn’t a divine calling in our life? I am reading Radical Amazement – Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, and Other Wonders of the Universe by Judy Cannato. It is challenging me to dig deeply and try to distinguish how I can best evolve my spirit and my communities. What is the most powerful way that I can connect to others positively and fuel a collective transformation of spirit? It seems like a no-brainer that adoption will do this. But, is this revelation mutually exclusive (for me and my family – I obviously don’t believe having biological children is in any way a bad thing)?

As usual, I don’t have an answer. I may not for the better part of this decade, or my husband and I may have an aha moment tomorrow…who knows. What we plan to do anyway, is commit ourselves entirely to this Haitian adoption for now. With that commitment in mind, we will follow the advice of my primary obgyn and go back to the fertility specialist for more analysis and possibly more testing. Whether we do anything, with whatever information comes out of that meeting, is completely an unknown.

With this current pregnancy, all we prayed for was to stay open to God’s divine plan. Full acceptance of reality feels peaceful some days, and like a full on struggle other days. We are completely aware that full acceptance sometimes – dare I say often – means a death of some dreams. But, we have to make room for new and better ones.

Maybe this means we’ll adopt two kids. Maybe this means we’ll only adopt one and re-vision our nuclear family tree once again. And maybe, sooner than later, we’ll bring that second labradoodle home and name her Mimosa, finally giving Hollywood a buddy. Sometimes we just need to revise the plan, and that’s okay.

Appreciating God’s Paint Palette

I don’t know the answers. I am saddened that all people don’t find the thrill of beauty in the variations of colors and textures of the human race. I am heartbroken for our future son or daughter. Yes, I am referencing what is happening in Ferguson, MO. I don’t feel qualified to comment on specifics, but I do feel like this needs to be discussed. To me, the different skin tones, eye colors, hair textures, and facial features are much more interesting, and the vastness of our beauty is breathtaking…the way we all are. I feel, like many others, that we need to appreciate cultural and race differences while pausing before stereotyping based on what our eyes see.

I have ignorance about race. I am sure I have many misconceptions. My perspective can’t possibly be someone else’s perspective when I only have the opportunity to carry around this body. What awareness has taught me is that my perspective in this female, white body is not what others know, and vice versa.

I’ll admit, this is actually my second draft of this post. I first called it, “The Repulsive Reality of Race” but I really just don’t feel that way, even when the world is telling us a different story. What Katie Mohr, a white mom of brown boys, writes here, has been echoed in many other writings I have come across. The basic message that, although many people will tell us racism doesn’t exist if we don’t make race – or differences – a “big deal,” the more experienced people will tell us it does exist; we have to recognize the differences; and there is no playbook or process to overcoming these obstacles entirely.

The common thought that “love will conquer all” (I hear this often these days, especially in reference to our adoption) is, in my opinion, a way to hide in our tunnel vision, our white perspective. I would love nothing more than to just throw a big pile of love on the problem and watch it disappear. Don’t get me wrong, love will always be the biggest part of the formula, but – I specifically – have a responsibility now to use my brain and awareness to delve deeper.

Thoughts on Raising a Child of a Different Race (what I have been thinking so far…)

1. I will not assume I know how he/she is feeling when regarding race differences.

2. I will try my best to find mentors of the same race for regular connection since my perspective is limited.

3. I will instill confidence in his/her God-given skin, hair, eye-color, and – of course – personality.

4. I will acknowledge our many similarities.

5. I also will acknowledge differences without the sting of judgement.

6. Even though we know there are differences, we will often forget them because we are just….we…a family.

7. I will communicate all I know about this child’s life prior to America in an age appropriate manner.

8. We will honor our child’s first heritage in our home.

9. We will celebrate our awesome, unique, and colorful family.

10. I will keep learning.

Haitian Nectar

Today, my husband and I received great news from our adoption agency. Not only has our dossier (which is a phone book sized stack of notarized papers verifying our ability and stability for raising a child) finally made the grueling trip to Haiti, but the estimated wait times for getting a child referral have gone down from 7-8 months to 3-6 months (!!!). It seems so unreal that I am truly having a hard time believing it. We might be able to spend Christmas in Haiti with our son or daughter!

We still have, at a bare minimum, 1-1.5 years left, assuming a seamless process. There are no promises or crystal balls, but our best forecasting now tells us that we should be under or at that 1.5 year mark which feels like beautiful fireworks going off inside my chest. Excited is an understatement.

Grace and fortune have been waiting for us here, and we are finally able to receive these gifts from our Most Loving. I will allow myself to get drunk off this encouragement and optimism for its sake – without expectations. I’ll continue to let the tide wash in and wash out at its own ancient and mysterious pace…while staying committed to my Creole lessons!

Orevwa for now!