wash me down stream

a few days ago, you may have seen a “help me..” pic i posted on instagram regarding our adoption…(if not, be sure to follow me…i mean it sounds pretty fun, riiight?!) well, i was feeling particularly overwhelmed about the mounting paperwork, documents needed, and budget, and i let a whole bunch of fear and anxiety take over. it seemed so bleak for a while there and i found myself quickly needing reminders that this is worth it.

but here’s thing: we know this is the time we are called to adopt. we know this is the path God has for us. we know if we keep walking this out, it will be worth it. it’s funny though, how knowing something and knowing something can be totally different. you know?

there are times in life when it has seemed like the right thing to dig in and stand firm. to cling to beliefs, or ways of doing something with all my might. to not get swept away by the waters that surround me. but i was talking with a girlfriend a while back, saying these same things about wanting to ‘stand firm in the face of all this uncertainty’ and she looked at me and said “but why not get swept down stream?”  this idea blew me away and i have not stopped thinking about it since. why not? why not let myself get washed away instead of standing here, exhausted, in this same spot trying to have faith the same way i always have.

i feel now more than ever, Lord wash me down stream.

standing rooted in my need to control

wash me down stream.

waist high in my comfort zone of ‘doing it myself’ and asking for His guidance later

wash me down stream

completely allowing my fears dictate my perception of God’s goodness or His ability to save

wash me down stream 

Lord, sweep me up me from this place of control, and self reliance, and fear and wash me down stream.

and yes, the trip down river may feel rushed and overwhelming and new and scary but that new place, that fresh place is so. much. better.

there is a hillsong’s united song called ‘oceans‘ and i have been listening to it on repeat for about a week now. this part has really hit me:


Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

how quickly, how easily i forget that. i can look back and clearly see where God has come through, guided, healed and blessed. yet at the first sign of struggle my soul cries out “God! you’ve forgotten me here! why won’t you help?!” ……..wash me down stream, dear Jesus, of this knee-jerk reaction to so easily forget Your goodness. bring to me to a new place of trust, and faith and dependency.. because that is where He is.. His grace abounds in DEEPEST waters. take me there, Lord. deeper and deeper.

so this is where we are right now: praying to be washed down stream by His goodness. will you pray that for us too?

 

and thank you again, dear village, for all of your encouragement and prayers and love and ps: this journey is so much more enjoyable with you along for the ride.  xoxoxo

 

yes and amen!

 

 

 

adoption option: homestudy scheduled!

in the world of  my “paper pregnancy” i’m not sure where this puts us ‘trimester’ wise, but we have our homestudy scheduled, people! this means that we are only 3 visits with our social worker, 6 hours of online training, 8 hours of in person training, 1 profile book, and innumerable essays away from bringing home baby B! (hmmmmmmm…..that sounded a lot more do-able in my head…..) bottom line: one step closer!  in case you are unfamiliar with how the process works, now we will meet with our social worker 3 times, for 3 hours each time and discuss our life, finances, parenting styles, and so much more…then she will combine all of that information into one giant plerg-based research paper and voila! we will be deemed fit to adopt! then we will finish our profile book, which is a shutterfly/snapfish type photo book detailing our life and families, and that is what the birth moms will read in order to pick us! it may sound like a lot left to do, but we are hoping to be ready to be picked by early this summer! whoop!

so in honor of getting one step closer, this weekend we (read: paul) moved all of the bedroom furniture out of the guest room, and officially declared it the nursery! :) so…..panic is setting in only slightly…..and i will be pinning nursery stuff like a freak over the next few weeks…..

alright! off to pin! hashtag: pray for paul. it’s ’bout to get craaaaaaaazy up in here…..

and thank you for all your continued prayer and love and support. honestly, we talk daily about how blessed we are to have such an incredible village online and in person!

 

let the next stage begin! also: how cute is my erin condren life planner?! i can't get enough of it.

let the next stage begin! also: how cute is my erin condren life planner?! i can’t get enough of it. and it has been CLUTCH in keeping all of our adoption stuff organized.

a scary thing happened on our way to adopt….

there hasn’t been a ton to talk about in our world of adoption lately. we have turned in the necessary paperwork, gotten ourselves fingerprinted and background checked, and, most importantly, paid the fees….after fees….after fees…. :) however, one of the requirements for our home study was a full health screen/physical, and that, my friends, is where the story gets interesting..i have to warn you, this gets a smidge personal, so read at your own risk.

last friday before Easter, i had my yearly, ahem, female physical. i am pretty good at keeping up with these each year, and have never had anything but positive results….wait…negative….positively negative? either way, it’s always been just fine. this time however as she was doing my breast exam (i warned you it was going to get real..) she found a lump….actually several lumps. here’s how the conversation went:

doctor: feeling, feeling, feeling…. “hmmmmm…..”

me: “oh my gosh. what…”

doctor: “hmmmmm…..nothing. i feel a lump…but i’m pretty certain it feels benign. ”

me: (in my headAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!): (aloud): “ooooooookay…….”

doctor: “yep. i’m like 99% certain this is just fibrocystic tissue. (feels the other side) “yep. that’s for sure what it is, nothing to worry about.”

me: “welllll…..are you sure……” (my mind is racing at this point)

doctor: “oh yeah. you just have extra lumpy breasts. nothing to worry about.”

me: “awesome. that’s just what i wanted to hear.” hashtag:never felt sexier.

so, most for most people, i imagine, this would be the end of the discussion. the doctor says i am all clear, she wasn’t worried, and she didn’t require any follow up work. however, she clearly didn’t understand who she was talking to. for my hypochondriac-always-assume-the-negative-pessimism-or-bust mindset, this was the beginning of the end. this was terrible, and i was certain i was dying. i left that office taking in fresh air a little longer, smiling a little brighter at the startbucks barista….i was a mess.

after talking to my mom, paul and *several* other people (i am verbal processor, can you tell?) i decided i would not be able to move on without a second opinion. and that needed to happen immediately. so before we left for fargo for easter, i made a follow up appointment for that next monday morning at 7:30am.

easter was actually really great, and i was for the most part, able to put this all out of my mind. after all, my doctor didn’t seem worried in the least….but i didn’t get much sleep sunday night..

so, to make a long story a little shorter, in we go monday morning, (God bless pauly for going with me), to have the second opinion. that doctor felt what the first did as well, only this time he ordered an ultra sound to be done, just to make sure. this had to be done at the virginia piper breast cancer center downtown, which is when things got really…..real.

walking into a building with CANCER CENTER  scrolled across it’s exterior is scary, to say the very least. pauly gripped my hand tighter than i thought he would when we walked up and i immediately thought to myself, “oh no you don’t! I can’t be the strong one in here!!” thankfully he held it together like a stud. the waiting area was scattered with women in head scarves, and honestly i almost passed out when i checked in. i knew that more than likely everything was fine, but looking around and seeing the reality of these women was…i don’t even know what…..overwhelming……..

i got called back and pauly came with me. ……as i laid on the ultrasound table, i noticed above me was a computer screen on the ceiling with floating fish and ocean scenes scrolling by….is that supposed to comfort or calm anyone in this situation? it didn’t for me, that’s for dang sure…. as she began to ultrasound (?) her way around my boob i saw on the screen the tissue and then a very large-ish black oval. one on each side, actually. the tech didn’t say anything to us as she went, but when she finished she said she needed to go talk with the radiologist. i don’t know what i was expecting, but i was hoping for at least an “okey dokey! this looks good!” waiting for her to return was the longest 10 minutes ever. i knew pauly saw those dark spots too, and he came and sat on the table with me and held my hand. i think i bit through my cheek forcing myself not to cry.

the tech opened the door and we both held our breath. when she saw us both sitting on the table she let out a little laugh and then said “okay! you’re good to go!” 

i’m sorry….what?!

“i’m gonna need a little more info..” i laughed..sort of..she explained that everything looked good and that there were no fibrous cysts or even tissue present. no scar tissue, nothing. and, for the second time in 4 days a medical professional told me i “just have extra lumpy breasts.” …….hot. i asked her what those large menacing black spots were on the screen and she laughed and said “a cross section of your ribs..” ahhh….right….

she handed me this piece of paper as we left…and that was the end of my little scare. leaving the center though both paul and i were pretty overwhelmed by the fact that for  the women we were passing, this is their real life. there are so many women, several that we know personally, who are going through various cancer treatments right now, and they seem even more so incredibly brave and strong to me. that place was no joke y’all, and although i was am so thankful to be healthy, i have a lot more empathy for those who are battling.

kind of a long story just to tell you our physicals turned out normal, i guess :) just trying to keep you abreast of our life…….sorry :)

 

 

adoption option: my paper pregnancy

this is a real thing. because the internet tells me so. and i’m living it. i originally read this term the other day on an instagram post, and i think it’s absolutely perfect: ‘paper pregnancy’. that’s exactly what it is… this time, before the baby comes where we are preparing, planning, dreaming, and imagining our life as our new family. we are anxiously anticipating his or her arrival; wondering what he/she will look like, what they will feel like, smell like, and how we will be as parents. i am growing, although not physically, through this process, and it is preparing us for the birth of our child! through the endless amounts of paperwork, we have no choice but to ponder the deep, deep inner workings of our marriage, faith, growing up years, and future. i just finished an essay on myself, who and why i am who i am, and where i see myself in ten years. oof. my. brain. hurts. but in the best way.

yes. overwhelming. for sure. but so. so. SO. gloriously worth it. i can’t wait. i’m just excited today. that’s all this post is. just excitement. nothing new to learn. no ground breaking revelations. just……joy. :)

thank you for being excited with us!! whoop! also: let’s think of a name to call this little guy/gal, shall we? here are my front runners:

baby berg

baby plerg

bb (baby berg) 

super original…i know….any suggestions? this is important people! he/she needs a hashtag! :)

 

 

adoption option: help wanted

so far, the trickiest part of adoption has been that we don’t know when the baby will actually arrive. we can see it coming in the distance, but we have no idea when it will get here. more on that later, but for now we need your help! because we don’t know exactly when the baby will arrive, or what the gender will be, we are having trouble preparing…i don’t know when to start buying things…so far i have yet to buy one single baby item..i have a small fear of having a nursery totally ready and then it sitting empty for a long time…..but i have decided that i at least need to start doing some research, so when our home study is complete i can start more seriously considering making purchases.

just so you know, it is 100% possible to lose yourself in “gender neutral nursery” on pinterest for the better part of one whole day. i currently find myself elbow-deep in nursery colors, cribs, diaper bags, moby wraps, parenting books, and hair care websites…..and i’m starting to LOSE MY FREAKING MIND! i have fallen so deep down the rabbit hole, alice, that i can’t seem to get back to reality! so here’s where i need you: (insert weak sob, here)  “heeeeelp……”

what do you guys recommend? what do i need? and what do i need right away? what can wait? what will i regret having and not having? best strollers? car seats? diaper bags? any hair care products i will need right away for african american baby hair? is that a thing?…how about good reads? baby wise? pacifiers? cribs? crib mats? monitors? any books, items, etc we should know/need as adoptive first time parents? i mean really, the list goes on, but i find myself getting overwhelmed so i’m gonna stop…..

thank you for helping me narrow down the, apparently endless, array of options. whoever has the corner on this, “everything you need for baby,” market is a freaking genius!

this is a little more dramatic than i actually feel, but i thought it was funny!  (courtesy of pinterest)

this is a little more dramatic than i actually feel, but i thought it was funny!
(courtesy of pinterest)

 

adoption option: christianity was made for mothers

i was planning today to write more about our paperwork and how things are progressing with the adoption process, but i find  myself feverishly typing this post instead. i have been so emotional lately regarding our adoption, and i want to document all of my feelings because…it helps me sort through it.

i know i’m not pregnant. i know that. however, lately, i find myself, for all intents and purposes, feeling emotionally pregnant. i find myself thinking about the baby constantly, and thus thinking of myself as a mother constantly too. everything, and i mean everything makes me tear up.. a song on the radio, blog posts of adoptive mothers, birth mom stories, those sarah mclachlan pet commercials, any song with minor chord progression……it kinda sucks, truthfully! it’s like i feel a rush of excitement, nervousness, anxiety, impatience, and sheer terror all at the same time and my only response lately is to cry about it! 

quite honestly though, i think i have been having a lot of fear. it’s very very real now that we could have a baby soon, and i am all of a sudden having an overwhelming feeling of “what if i can’t do this…” i’m sure all mothers feel this way at some point..(if not, lie to me, people. i’m fragile..)  but it’s really scary to feel this way! here are a list of my current fears, in no particular order:

*what if they cry and i don’t know what to do

*what if they are sick i don’t realize it

*what if they choke and i can’t help them

*what if i forget to buckle them in the car seat

*what if they don’t like me

*what if they think i’m a bad mom

*what if i can’t handle this

i have lots of mommy friends and we have been having lots of conversations lately about the nearness of me and motherhood.  i find myself clinging to every word they speak. searching each conversation for bits of knowledge and advice. anything i can cling to and take into mommyhood with me. i think because we have waited so long (like, almost a decade!) to have kids, we have been mentally and emotionally preparing for this day for a long time. it’s given us a loooooong time to think about what kinds of parents we will be and want to be, and we are very aware of how hard some days can be for parents. the advice has been great, but its interesting: the overwhelming theme from every parent we have spoken to has been 1) you won’t do everything right and 2) you will never be enough for your child

and this is why i am fairly confident that Christianity was made for mothers (and fathers, i suppose :) ).  i will never be everything my child needs. i can’t be. the same way paul can’t be everything i need, or my parents, my career, or even my children. the only thing that can absolutely fill the “everything” hole, is my faith. and because of this, i find myself clinging to Jesus with both fists.

the crazy thing is, i already have this desperation for my child to feel this way too. to have a desire to hold so tightly to their faith and never let go. i want to make sure i teach them and train them and show them how to love Jesus. however,  i understand better now why my parents took us to church each sunday. why they modeled a Godly life, and why they made Jesus so important. yes, they wanted us to have a deep faith, but i realize now their passion was also an overflow of their necessity.  i want to foster a deep faith out of love and thankfulness, of course, but also, i am realizing even now, there is no better, and really no other, option as a parent, than to cling to Jesus. and i am so grateful for that.

so there it is. i clearly don’t know everything on anything so any sage advice and/or wisdom is always appreciated.

our adoption option: ascending mount paperwork

we knew this was coming. we’ve been preparing. we’ve heard tale of the giant that is before us… a mountain we (affectionately) call, ‘mount paperwork.’  but after receiving our first package yesterday containing the initial paperwork for our home study, it has been confirmed: this is not for the faint of heart. after opening the package and seeing packet after packet fall onto the kitchen counter, i immediately and without hesitation baked a dozen frozen chocolate chip cookies, and ate them mindlessly while staring blankly at the packets before me….just for the smell of it. naturally.

so here’s the game plan:  just like our syllabi in college, we will attack this one step at a time. one page at a time, one essay question at a time. i will not get overwhelmed. i will not get overwhelmed…

the good/bad thing about this paperwork is they are asking us some really deep questions. great things for us to think about as we prepare to be first time parents, but some take a lot of time and thought. since we are choosing to adopt through a Christian based agency, a lot of the questions center around our relationship with Christ. and it’s not like they are hard to answer, just….involved. like, “describe how you handle sin in your life.”   umm….okay…..let me just jot that down for ya quick….sooooo…are we talking like, real sin, or  “i love too deeply and i feel like it’s a stumbling block at times….” i am assuming they want the truth, and i guess honesty is the best policy…. i just have to figure out a way to eloquently say “sometimes, i can be a reeeeeeeal bitch.” “oh, and sometimes i swear. but i’m working on that…”

other questions ask us to address our parenting philosophy…..and at this point in our never ending essay test, i just want to say “listen: i know my kids will end up in therapy for something i did or didn’t do at some point in their lives. and i’ve accepted that.” but….that’s probably not what they are going for either…..maybe i’ll save that one for when the sugar from the cookies kicks in…….

for as much as i joke about it, it’s very exciting. we are actually moving forward…to actually adopt an actual human being…making us actual parents….and actually, i can’t wait.

just pray for our ascent up the mountain.

our adoption option: happy valentine’s day to her

i meant to post this on actual valentines day, but we’ve had a super busy last 10 days or so with travel, family, and work so here it is now and we can all just accept it. :)

the other day we were driving to fargo to visit family. it’s a long, boring, 4 hour drive and usually produces one of two things for the PLergs: 1) beautiful conversation about our life, our goals, our dreams for the future, or 2) a katy perry sing off. (paul always wins.) it’s always one of these options and never anything else.  so this trip we were sitting quietly, driving along with the snow white landscape whipping past out the window…just….thinking…..when pauly says to me, “isn’t it crazy to think that our birth mom is pregnant right now?” honestly, this thought knocked the wind out of me and instantly made my eyes fill with tears. she……. she is pregnant. we have waited almost 9 years to start this process and now all of a sudden she is real. she is an actual person, a real woman who either knows or is just finding out she is pregnant. she will change our lives forever, and she doesn’t even know us.  even now as i write this, i can’t help my eyes from welling with thankful, overwhelmed, tears.

for a while, paul and i thought about having a completely closed adoption. we thought it would be easier for us to just take our child and live our life. to completely think of this child as our own, and that way we could protect ourselves (in theory) from the dreaded “you’re not my real mom!” bomb someday. but paul’s sentence…that one simple thought….changed our minds completely. there is no us without her. this woman is giving us the most incredible, selfless, precious gift anyone ever could, and she will forever be a part of our lives. whatever that looks like: pictures once a year, meeting her before she delivers, being in the delivery room, phone calls a few times a year…. we want her to know that she is loved. deeply and forever by us. all of us.

along this process we have learned the ‘lingo’ for adoptions. for example, we have learned to always refer to any children that i may someday birth as ‘biological’ kids, no ‘our own’ kids…as in “are you ever going to have any kids of your own?” because all of our children are ‘our own.’ we will have prayed and labored in some way for each and every one of them. we also have learned that we need to view our birth mother’s choice for adoption not as ‘giving up her baby for adoption,’ but rather that she has chosen to ‘place the child for adoption.’ i never want my child to think that this was an easy decision for their birth mom to make. i never want my child to think that they are easy to ‘give up.’ because that simply is not true. yes. there are birth mom’s who don’t seem to be as connected to their child when placing them, but after reading story after story, listening to real birth mom’s share their experience, i know now with unshakeable certainty that this is never the easy choice. imagining our birth mom looking through our profile (or many many profiles) and thinking “i will never have this life. i will never be able to give my child this life…” and then selflessly choosing to give her child that life is…..unimaginable for me. i can’t imagine making that choice. i can’t imagine being as strong as she has to be.

so for all of this, she will always be a part of our lives. it’s because of her that we will have our family. and it is her strength, her courage, and her selflessness that i will remember when i raise my child. if this isn’t the ultimate of what it means to be a selfless, sacrificing mother, i don’t know that is.

so, happy valentines day to her. may she feel our prayers everyday. may she feel the love of Jesus wash over her every step. and may she know that she is already part of our forever family.

adoption option: why adoption?

we found out today that the consulting agency we applied to accepted our application and we can officially move forward in our adoption process! next comes a home study, more paperwork, and making our profile. i will keep giving updates as they come in, but we are so excited to have been approved for this first step! it’s really happening!! prepare yourselves, village :)

so, i want to address why we have chosen to adopt. there are lots of factors here, and lots more to tell about our process, but i will address today why we chose to adopt at all. i can chuckle about it now, but there have been, on more than one occasion, sincere questions about my ability to birth children. like, to my face.  from (almost) perfect strangers. most commonly, we get asked “oh you’re adopting!” (a little quieter) “are you barren?” it’s a little shocking, but, we get it. people have questions and want to know more.  i don’t take it personally or get really offended by it. it’s just funny to me that that is one of the first questions people have when they find out we are adopting. and if not a question, i can see it on their face….”oh your adopting!” followed by a slight narrowing of the eyes, glance at my stomach, tilt of the head, and then, after awkward eye contact back at my face, a quick “that is so great!” again, i get it. it’s not the ‘norm’ for people to consider adoption unless it’s due to infertility, and let me be clear: there is NOTHING wrong with that. we are PRO PRO PRO adoption in whatever form it comes in. however for us, our adoption option was just that, our option.

so let me get this out of the way right away: i honestly have no idea if i can have biological children or not. we’ve never pulled the goalie to find out. so….there ya go..tell your friends so i don’t have to. haha. just kidding. kinda.

(oh, on a hilarious note: i have also been asked  “are you adopting because you don’t want to ruin your figure?” to which i reply: “hahahahahah! yeah. i can’t risk ruining this bod…..my trainers ‘ben & jerry’ would kill me.”)

so here is the truth behind our adoption option:

we decided to adopt because we have fallen in love with the parallels between our adoption into the family of Christ, and  the process of adoption as a means of growing our family. we so connect with the idea that no matter who you are, where you are from, what color your skin is, or who birthed you, we can call each other family, and love each other unconditionally. since we don’t have any biological children, we figured why not go ahead and adopt first? those children will be just as much “ours” as any biological children will be, and we have such a heart for adoption now, that we don’t want to wait. :)

we are starting to fill out more paperwork now, and i will be posting more on our process soon. there’s a lot more to tell, but this is getting long…

so, all of this to say, we are open to your questions that come from a place of love and support. we know not all of our choices makes sense to everyone, and there is a lot that we will share about our journey…..not everything. but a lot….to answer as many questions as possible. thank you for being a loving, supportive, encouraging, village. we are blessed by you!

adoption option: and so it begins!

i can’t even believe i am typing this entry. honestly. i never thought this day would come:  as of today, my dear friends, paul and i have officially begun the adoption process! it’s really happening.

this has been something we have prayed about, talked about, dreamed about our entire marriage, (and that’s almost 9 years, mind you) and the time for action is now. through prayer and planning we have concluded that this is it! let’s do this!

i am going to try to chronicle our journey as thoroughly as possible. i want to remember this time with crystal clarity. i would love for our future children to be able to read these posts some day and understand fully how amazing this process was. will it be hard? yes. but unbelievable and life changing in the best way possible? no doubt in my mind.

last monday we contacted a consulting firm, based in georgia, about helping us with our process. this is not a necessary step, to use a consulting firm, but we decided getting a little more hand-holding the first time around seemed like a good thing for us. it helped too that friends of ours used this same agency for one of their adoptions, and only had the best things to say about them.  this agency will help us with our home study, paperwork navigation, and then ultimately they will be the ones we send our profile to. they then will send us out into the ‘adoption-sphere’ in hopes of getting matched!

so this weekend we filled out the necessary paperwork to apply to this consulting firm, and (fingers crossed!) when we get approved, that’s when the ball will really start rolling!

so thank you everyone, in advance, for your prayers, support, and love. it takes a village, and we are counting on you to help us through!