Monday, May 30, 2011

Family Is What You Make of It

Adoption is such an beautiful journey. I was blessed to be able to meet some of my extended family this weekend for my little brother’s wedding. It was amazing to see similarities through and through that I recognized from myself. Unless you’re adopted, you can’t understand what it feels like to come back together with a family who, although you didn’t grow up with, has the same laugh, mannerisms, humor and love. I remember in my first post I was extremely nervous about sharing a blog about our adoption journey because of how close it was to my heart and it really began with my heart in Ethiopia. Now it’s just here, with me with little pieces in tiny places around this country with people whom I’m blessed to call family. If I have learned anything through my own personal journey, it’s that family is what you want it to be. It’s up to you, you have the control and surrounding yourself with loving people leads you to where you need to be.  Ultimately this will lead us to Georgia, where we know we’re suppose to go to pick up our sweet little baby girl. On a lighter note, we’re looking for name suggestions…Chris’ rules, no stones, colors or flowers. That lowers my suggestions down to….NONE! Hoping everyone has a safe Memorial Day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Beginning of our Lifebook

This week began the, in my opinion, overwhelming task of creating a "lifebook" for our baby girl. I couldn't help but think that this is something that one, our daughter will be looking at for the rest of her life, and two, the book that will more than likely decide our future. Birthmothers will be looking through it to figure out what our family is all about and why we should be honored to become her child's parents.No pressure or anything. Psh... Although I consider myself a very creative person, I'm no scrapbooker... I have friends who are and I envy their craftiness and skill at matting, detailing and displaying all the pictures of their kids lives, but uploading to Shutterfly is really the best I can do. I was totally fine with that until I had to create our daughter's "lifebook". Luckily (silver lining) I take an ENORMOUS amount of pictures and have very helpful friends and family. I ended up at Michael's with Henry one afternoon to pick up everything I needed and I didn't realize the amount of isles there were for scrapbooking material. Paper, borders, sticky things that you use to make things stick to other things, stencils, stickers, blah blah blah mind turned to mush and I needed help ASAP. I ended up calling my sister in law who is a super dooper scrapbooker and with Henry screaming in the background the gave me a quick list and I grabbed what I could and got the heck out of dodge. Thank you saved my sanity. My sister Ellen came over tonight and we got started and finished 5 or so pages. *pat on back* I got to thinking about my baby book my mom made for me. She kept every single baby check up form. She updated every month's milestones and even had to add pages to it because she didn't have enough room to fit every bit of information. She also blessed me with this poem and it's written in the front page of my baby book...

A gift undeserved. A sweet cry in this world of goods bought and sold. She's Epiphany, a baby who comes without my labor. It was a strange trip in the night, it seems we prayed her into existence. She began in the will of my heart, the mother in me leaps to this awaiting babe and I ask the world to sway so she may sleep.
By: Her Mama

Funny how your perspective can change in just a few minutes. Thanks Mama.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

He Prepared Me

I have been waiting...and waiting to post this blog post. The past two weeks have been filled with a lot of tears, laughter and smiles and I find it so amazing that everything that we do, on a daily basis, has meaning. Our thoughts, our actions, our interactions with people that we meet ALL have meaning and a higher correlation than we can't really imagine or grasp. I'll first go back to the beginning, the VERY beginning.
I was adopted. Born from, what I believe to be one of the most courageous women I've been blessed to know, and placed into a family who has loved, cared and made me into the woman and mother that I am today. Even as a small child I always knew I would be a mother and adopt. My child's heart felt I was "chosen" into my family and my loyalty stemmed from knowing that they didn't have to take me. They could have said "no" but I was chosen, picked up when I was 6 weeks from Alabama and brought to Texas. What I didn't know at the time, was that I had two brothers. We grew up without each other and although I wouldn't change a thing about my family, there is a load of emotional baggage that goes along with being adopted and balancing your love for your family while also yearning to know who you came from. Children need to know where they came from and I decided a long time ago that I couldn't handle anymore emotional baggage. I have always felt like I have had little pieces of my heart in different places and I couldn't quite put them all together. I didn't want anymore pieces farther away from where they needed to be, right here with me. This is one of the biggest reasons why we chose not to look into domestic adoption. Little did I know that God had been preparing my heart for the past thirty years and I didn't even know it.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. Application in. Checks written. Ethiopia slows their cases down 90%. We were shocked but hopeful and two days later we were given to opportunity to consider a domestic adoption through a friend who was having a baby girl. All of the emotions came rushing back to me about all the reasons why I couldn't handle it as a mother. How could I balance all of my feelings and thoughts, do the right thing for the baby as well as my other three children who have been waiting anxiously for a sister and what if, God forbid, she wouldn't sign over her rights and we'd have to giver her back? Then what? I was broken and I didn't even have her yet. I kept thinking "But Lord? Why are you bringing this up? We have plans, we have a good plan! What's wrong with our plan God?". He was preparing us.  The adoption didn't happen obviously but Chris and I couldn't help but wonder what He wanted us to do. So we prayed.

So last week, Chris asked me to check with our agency to see what the status was for Ethiopia. We were extremely worried about the waiting period and we determined that we needed a plan "B". "I know you've always said that you don't want to do a domestic adoption Danielle, but why don't you do some research and just see what's out there". I didn't know where to start but I assured him that I'd see what I could find and get back with him so we could really figure out what we needed to do. The next day I found An Open Door Adoption Agency based out of Georgia from an adoption update email I had received. I scrolled through their African American infant program guidelines and sent over the information to Chris. He asked me to email the director and the next weekend we started filling out our application.

Such a different program than what we were expecting. The birth mothers choose us to adopt their baby, such an amazing feeling that someone "chooses" us just as I was "chosen". We'll get to travel to pick up our daughter with our three sons as well as be in contact with her birth mother. THIS is what God was preparing me for. We feel like we know what we're doing and have such a sense of peace about how we're completing our family. All of the questions, baggage, tears, more questions and balancing brought us be the parent our daughter needs us to be.

At dinner the other week, my oldest was asking me what his sister's name was. I told him that she didn't have a name yet and he looked at me as if I had turned into a monster. "She's gotta have a name mom!", he screamed at my younger son. "Let's name her Lilly", he said. "Lilly-Grace!" James screamed. I like's got my vote.