A Thrill of Hope

“Our painted old nativity is fragile like the lives we lead.

Silently reminding me – God is with us.”

Another Merry Christmas-  Amy Grant

I love Christmas!  The world is ripe with possibility.  In my area, snow covers the ground in a crisp white blanket.  The multi colored lights shining against a white backdrop is magical.  I switch my iPod to Christmas music the weekend after Thanksgiving.   As you may have guessed by some of my writing, lyrics touch me.  I enjoy music, but especially Christmas music.

Anna and I got together for a Paint Nite- where you paint on canvas according to the instruction of the teacher.  The painting was Christmas themed and so we were talking about Christmas music while getting settled.  My favorite is ‘O Holy Night’.  Have you ever listened to the words?

 “Long lay the world in sin and error pining- ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” 

We were trudging through our daily humdrum.  We were entangled by bad habits and routines without meaning.  The definition of pining is a decline (mental or physical) as from a broken heart.   It’s like the Rabbi’s one line prayer: “May I not die while still alive.”

And suddenly the soul felt its worth.  It’s like a wake up call, a sunrise in the midst of a midwinter bleakness.

“A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. ”

We have this one short, messy, beautiful life.  And suddenly we feel a purpose and a meaning.   Night doesn’t last, a new day appears.    I breathe freer and my spirit is light.

“ Fall on your knees.  Oh, hear the angels voices.  O night, divine.  O night, when Christ was born.”

I always cry when this sentence starts.  Recognize the moment and take reverence.  It’s a quiet occurrence and yet feel the gravity of what is happening.

And so I sing,   “Long lay the world in sin and error pining- until He appeared and the soul felt its worth.  A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.  For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.  Fall on your knees.  Oh, hear the angels voices.  O night, divine.  O night, when Christ was born.”

May you have a meaningful Christmas.  In the midst of the wrapping paper and appetizers and bustle, may you pause to bend a knee to the meaning of the season.  May you feel that thrill of hope and may your soul feel its worth.

-Elle

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The Unspeakable

We all know the childhood saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”  It isn’t true.  Words can inspire, deter, or destroy.

As a college English major, I still enjoy reading various authors and seeing how they artistically arrange words.  Authors are like painters who choose certain colors because author’s words tint their story.  Even marketers know the power of words when catalogs describe a ‘sea foam’ instead of ‘green’ sweater because it will sell better.

As such, I take comfort in the knowledge that there is no word for a parent who has lost a child.  If you lose a spouse, you are a widow.  If you lose a parent, you are an orphan.  But if you lose a child, there is no word for it.  And my heart says, “Yes!  The English language has it right to recognize it couldn’t define the unspeakable.”  Literally . . . the unspeakable.

Those of us who have lost children are part of a club we don’t want to be part of.  No offense to the rest of the club.

I am thankful for my membership.  It hasn’t made me better, but it has made me stronger.  It hasn’t made me forget, but it has made me remember those in need.  I am kinder and gentler with those I find with tender hearts.  The woman at my office who unexpectedly lost her husband and tells me I am the only one who doesn’t tell her to get over it.  The friend of a medically fragile infant who is preoccupied with keeping it all together.  The family member with a chronic condition who lives in/through her pain.

Phillipians 4:12 “I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.”

 

-Elle

Giving Thanks this Thanksgiving

“What do you think about when you look at me

I know we’re not the fairytale you dreamed we’d be

You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand

And we dove into a mystery.

 

How I wish we could go back to simpler times

Before all our scars and all secrets were in the light

On this hallowed ground we’ve drawn the battle lines

Will we make it through the night.

 

It’s gonna take much more than promises this time

Only God can change our minds

 

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete

Could we just be broken together

If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine

Could healing still be spoken and save us

The only way we’ll last forever is broken together “ –Broken Together, Casting Crowns

 

I love how the lyrics say, “we dove into a mystery.”  We said, “I do,” before we knew what the future looked like.  For better or for worse.  In sickness and in health.  Marriage is a covenant relationship, a lifelong commitment to one person.  Feeling broken- in body or spirit- can make it hard to connect with your spouse.

For me, I felt like I was trying to keep up appearances in public and hold it together as people would question when kids were coming or when we were going to get pregnant.  It was a dodge and weave or duck and cover and the questions were fired like bullets at each party we attended.  I felt emotionally spent, especially around the holidays when gatherings peak and I see family and friends I haven’t seen in a while.    When I got home, I felt relief and like I could be myself.  However, it also felt volatile at home.  I vented to my husband and the relationship began to feel more like a band-aid to pains encountered than the fun loving couple we once were.  I didn’t want him to handle me with kid gloves and yet I felt fragile at the same time.

Marriage can feel like an implosion.   Everything to an ‘outsider’ looks the same- same job, same address, same church, same friends.  However, to you, it feels like life exploded in a messy heap.  How do you pick up the pieces and move on?  What are your coping mechanisms?  What are his?

Make time to appreciate the time spent together.  Plan date nights, eat dinners together, turn on ‘your song’, make each other breakfast in bed, or even write notes and leave them in places to find when you’re not at home.  Remember what brought you joy or what you enjoyed as a couple when you were dating.  Be intentional in honoring commitments to go out- whether for coffee or a movie.  Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s important to maintain your relationship.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my spouse.  The weekend after Thanksgiving I am going to grab him for an impromptu date.  I’ll drive through for some hot chocolate and drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights.  We’ll get a chance to catch up . . . and I may or may not be in pajamas.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

-Elle

Everything in Its Time

OK- so the Christmas music has started on stations around me.  Christmas music- it’s November, people.   I love Christmas.  I love Christmas music.  But, I love everything in its time.

Right now, I’m enjoying watching the fall leaves change from green to pink to crimson red.  It’s the cycle of life.   It’s a reminder that even in loss, there is beauty to be seen.  Things can get to be so busy, especially around the holiday season.

It’s a good time to remind ourselves to be patient and kind to yourself.  Whether you are trying to conceive, fostering, in the process of adopting, or grieving a loss . . . love yourself.  It’s too easy to hate your bodies’ limitations or what is not rather than what is.  Get rest, eat healthful food, and find a friend with whom you can be vulnerable.

Don’t punish yourself.  It’s too easy to not take care of yourself as a punishment- conscious or not.  We get too little rest in overcommitting to tasks to try to mask the pain by being busy.  We may avoid others and stay inside as an escape of awkward interactions.  We may take in too many calories to eat our feelings, covering our hurt with food that doesn’t fuel our life.  Whatever your coping mechanisms are, be cognizant of what that or those are so you can try to actively work through those.  You can’t cover your feelings- deal with them so you can have a productive and contented life.

You may consider limiting your screen time- whether that is cable TV, Facebook, or movies.   You see these seemingly picture perfect lives and can be tempted to compare your loss with their social media ‘life.’  1. People only post their best selves on social media.  It’s wonderful to see a friend’s family but if you are walking through a dark period, 25 pictures a day of their youngest baby can be draining emotionally.  2. Even reality TV isn’t ‘real life’.   Buyer beware.

As we march into the holiday season, find a way to be kind to yourself.  What one step will you take this week?

 

-Elle

Nothing Less – Part 2

shock 1

Shock

I remember the surreal drive to pick up my first round of Clomid. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I couldn’t believe I was driving to the pharmacy to pick up a medical aid to get pregnant. This was us. We were that couple—the couple who couldn’t get pregnant! The more I thought about it, the more overwhelming it was. How did others get pregnant so easily? I couldn’t understand why my family members didn’t struggle with fertility, but here I was—alone—sitting in my car looking at the florescent lights illuminating the drugstore parking lot. Did I have the strength to get out of the car? It was just Clomid. What was the big deal? No! It wasn’t just the Clomid! It was the amount of time that passed! It was the TV shows coming up with new plot twists—pregnancies. It was the number of baby announcements I scrolled through on social media. It was the life I saw everyone else moving on with while I got to sleep in on the weekends.

I only remember the drive there. I don’t remember paying for it, walking out of the store, getting back into my car, or driving home. I don’t remember the conversation with my husband about how my day went. I don’t even know how I got to sleep that night. My guess is, it was probably too overwhelming. My guess is, I didn’t shed a tear. My guess is, I probably put on my brave face and fed myself all the hopeful feels like: This will be it! This is how a lot of women get pregnant. It’s ok that I need a little assistance. I’ll get pregnant. A few hot flashes never killed anyone.

shock 3

I experienced more than hot flashes during my 3 rounds of estrogen boosting Clomid. Work was near impossible. I had to walk off the intense pain when standing up from my chair. After all my efforts to power through the day, my husband would have to help me up off the couch in the evenings like an old lady. One day I was on the floor of my kitchen in debilitating pain. My husband had just gotten home and found me curled up on the floor, crying. I could barely breathe. Motrin wasn’t helping anymore. He insisted I see my doctor. I fought back a little, “It’s just the Clomid.” My husband picked up my cell phone to call my doctor. Physical pain had never been my weakness. Through all the years of swaying hormone symptoms and menstrual cycles, I always muscled through without pain relievers. Looking back on that summer, I waited too long. I battled through months of agony! Honestly, I think I didn’t want to accept that maybe I was the problem.

shock 2

After I saw my OB-GYN, I was referred immediately for an ultrasound. After the very uncomfortable and embarrassing ultrasound, the technician walked me back to the waiting room, “You have a lot of issues going on…” She couldn’t think of anything else to say?? How about, how’s the weather outside? Or, do you have any plans for the rest of the day? Note to self: small talk is a great way to avoid saying stupid things. I couldn’t thank her enough for saying something so incredibly insensitive while I was feeling so uncertain. I found a corner in the waiting room until my doctor could review the photo shoot of every angle of my abdomen. I waited. And waited. A couple hours later the receptionist said my doctor was stuck in surgery and would call me with results in a couple days.

My husband was the sweetest! After work that night, he took me out to keep my mind off the wait. We walked. We talked. We laughed. We prayed. Just as we were pulling into our neighborhood, my cell rang. It was 9pm, my doctor was calling me from her home! The ultrasound showed a softball sized cyst. I would be scheduled for laparoscopic surgery 3 weeks later.

shock 6

I spent those few weeks approaching the surgery date processing my reality.

The thoughts were suffocating my mind! They were flashing before me. What if this is my reality? What if this is what life will look like forever? What if this is it? What if nothing changes? It was a vicious circle of what if’s. I couldn’t breathe. My lungs pulsed and air sharply passed through my throat. I sat up and threw my legs over the side of the bed. The bedroom was the darkest it had ever been. The tears streamed into my lap as my body convulsed. “I…can’t…do this…anymore…” I said between brief swift efforts to gain oxygen. My hands were on my heart. It hurt so much! I could physically feel the hole. I had woken my husband. He came up behind me and wrapped me in his arms tightly. “Shhhh….what’s wrong?” He gently soothed in my ear. “I’m so scared…that this is real…” I sobbed. It felt like I was stuck on a train going 1000 mph without knowing when or where the destination point was.

shock 5

Even in the midst of denial and shock, I still wanted to trust that my Sovereign God was allowing this. After several panic episodes, I began pouring myself into His Word. I needed to hold onto some kind of truth, because I wasn’t able to grip onto my own reality—I needed God to be my Reality.

 

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

   Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

   If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning

   and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me,

   and your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

   and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

   the night is bright as the day,

   for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;

   you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

   my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

   intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

   the days that were formed for me,

   when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:7-16

This passage was the most comforting to me at that time. God created me and He knew what was going on inside my body. He formed my inward parts. He knit me together. I am fearfully and wonderfully made—cyst, infertility, and childlessness. He knew. He knew and heard my requests for a family over the past 2 years. He knew my heart. He saw the tears. He heard our broken prayers; trusting Him and knowing that He has the very best in mind for us.

shock 4

The sedation drugs were slowly wearing off. My doctor came to debrief us on how the surgery went. The surgeons (she had to call in a specialist) spent 2 hours longer than predicted, due to endometrial scar tissue and adhesions. She spouted out words like endometriosis, Lupron, reproductive endocrinologist, and invitro fertilization. It was worse than expected. So, it was me. I was the problem. The room echoed and began to spin. It was too much to absorb. Everything came crashing down. I needed everyone to leave so I could take my brave face off. Once the nurse finished dosing me up on pain meds and exited the room, lowering my shield I began to cry. The answers were before me and I didn’t like them. I turned the surgical photos around in my hands, trying to make sense of them. My abdomen was mutilated by scar tissue. My poor little left ovary had been consumed by a monstrous cyst. Holding my hand, my husband stood by me quietly, allowing me to tearfully process everything.

shock 7

Over the next several months, the word “endometriosis” did the explaining for me. I felt the silent, pity hugs. It felt like many of my friends didn’t know how to treat me after this pivotal diagnosis. In the beginning, I could see they were trying to keep me in the friendship circle, but I was losing commonality. The conversations held more lulls than we were comfortable with. Invites to parties slowed down. The dinner invitations weren’t returned.

The reproductive endocrinologist was very kind and light-hearted; making most appointments easy and bearable. He lined me up for fertility testing during the next menstrual cycle. I came in for several ultrasounds to mark egg growth and quality, and to have blood draws to test hormone levels.

After a month filled with appointments, our doctor sat us down for the ‘final’ consult. “All the blood work and tests came back great, and one tube is clear.” He explained how polyps can affect fertility. He thought it would be good to rule them out as a factor. This would include an appointment to view my uterus via live camera. I agreed and made the appointment.

My period came with a vengeance! It was as if my uterus was taking revenge for all the poking and prodding. I called the doctor’s office to reschedule the polyp scan appointment. I heard the staff member cover the phone and speak to the doctor, who must’ve been standing nearby at the time of my phone call. She uncovered the phone, “The doctor would still like to see you if that’s alright.” Well, I guess so…if blood doesn’t bother the guy. So, I kept the appointment.

shock 8

Since there was going to be results right away, I asked my husband if he would go with me for support. I couldn’t rule out a meltdown if there was bad news.

The dimly lit room had a couple computer monitors and warm artwork on the walls. I wrapped myself in the paper gown and sat on the tall patient bench. Taking a hopeful deep breath, I chatted quietly with my husband. The doctor and assistant softly knocked at the door and greeted us. While booting up one of the monitors, there was another knock at the door—a technician of sorts came in, she was introduced as the instructor of the new camera they would be operating today. Excuse me, new? At that moment I should have stood up and told them we would do this another time, but the sweet Anna in me stayed like a good patient. The doctor had me lean back and ‘get comfortable’. He snapped on a light and faced it under the paper hanging between my knees. I closed my eyes and imagined I was somewhere else. There was another knock at the door, 2 more assistants came into the shrinking room. My husband squeezed my hand. I heard muttering, hums and movement. Off to the side, my sweet husband tried talking with me in efforts to keep me distracted while they learned.how.to.operate.the.camera that was inserted inside my reproductive organ. Laying there spread out like a butterfly, I realized I was their guinea pig! AND…I was on my period! It felt like an eternity. At one point I snapped, “Do we have what we need yet?”

Everyone filed out of the room when they were finished with their experiment. I dressed and came into the doctor’s office where he would review his findings. I was knee to knee with my husband. He held my hands. Our doctor sat down with us and basically said they couldn’t see anything because I was on my period. And that we would need to try a saline flush ultrasound instead. While making the next appointment, I kindly told the receptionist that after insurance paid for this procedure that was all they were getting from us for this appointment.

Without going into much more detail, the next procedure showed a single polyp. 2 weeks later, I had it removed. The doctor told us at our FINAL consult that he thought maybe the polyp was hindering our fertility, but still recommended IVF. He made us a 2 for 1 offer.

The tears flooded the car the whole way home. My conclusion was that if IVF is as exhausting as the past 6 weeks had been, then I’m OUT! Never! I had had enough! There was no way I was going to shoot myself up with shots and drugs while doctors treat me like a science experiment! (Clomid had already backfired on me.) And what if the first try isn’t successful? All that! Then I’m devastated! Then I have to go through it all again. And what if my body reacted horribly to the hormones?? Nope! Not doing it! Who knew making a baby could be so exhausting. I thought all you had to do was have sex.

I am absolutely in no way trying to discourage anyone from moving forward with IVF. It is a wonderful and beautiful way to grow a family! It was just very clear in my mind that it wasn’t an avenue I wanted to, or thought I was brave enough to venture down for myself. Everyone’s journey is different…this is mine, and mine alone.

My husband and I poured our hearts out before the Lord, asking Him to fill our lives with peace. We agreed to try naturally for the next 6 months. If we didn’t get pregnant, then we would search our hearts and seek another avenue of growing our family.

The next 6+ months were the most excruciating of them all…

-love Anna

Free to be Childfree

As you navigate through options and choices in your own life, an option is being childfree.

I specifically say childfree instead of childless.  One is a choice and the other is a definition people put upon me with sad, downcast eyes.  I get to sleep in on Saturdays, volunteer in the evenings, be there for aging parents, and watch Netflix without interruption.

Sheryl Sandberg said, “Option A is not available.  So let’s kick the sh** out of Option B.”  She experienced the loss of a spouse, but the saying can apply to being childfree.  It wasn’t what I planned, but neither will I be apologetic about it.

There are benefits to not having children.  There is time and money to do things.  There is time to give back to the community (or world) at large.  I have been able to volunteer for organizations that require training or commitments of 10+ hours a week during peak season.  I can fill in for a position or show up early without juggling schedules over child care.  I can grow my career whether that includes travel, working late, or remoting in from home.  There is money for travel, hobbies, and entertainment.  I can travel when school is in session and rates are cheaper.  Pursue a hobby or avocation.  I can also live in a chicken nugget and hot dog free home (tee hee).

I am able to be involved with my nieces and nephews in an active way that I couldn’t be as a parent.  I take two on a vacation every summer and we’ve explored the country through road trips, taken a cruise, and even gotten the first stamps in their passports.  My rule on the trip is to say ‘yes’ as much as possible.

I have chosen organizations who benefit children.  Specifically, those that benefit girls who might not otherwise have their voice heard.  By giving back, I hope to benefit children – just in a different way.

Live a full life worthy of your calling.  It’s a wonder-filled world; praying for you as you navigate the decisions in your corner of it.

-Elle

Nothing Less – Part 1

I have named this blog series ‘Nothing Less’ because I want nothing less than what God wants for me. Nothing less than His sovereign love. Nothing less than His perfect will.

I have learned that the will of God for me is not in the plans that work out. It’s in the way I walk with Him through everything—the plans that work out and the plans that don’t. Through it all, I am learning more of the heart of Jesus as I walk this road of anguish. “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” (Ps. 119:71) What a disappointment my life would be if I realized His will for me was physical pain and emotional heartache. It’s not. That’s life and sometimes it simply sucks, but Jesus’ healing hand walks me through it, and I want nothing less!

A lot of this may reflect from my story posted under Anna’s Story. I apologize for verbiage. Grief (and healing) is a large part of my childless story.

I was raised in a Christian culture filled with lies ideas like: when you save yourself for your husband your marriage will avoid heartache, and when you get married you will have lots of children. It’s a given. Children are a blessing. I played with baby dolls instead of Barbies. I babysat during my teens instead of working at McDonald’s. My younger years were surrounded by dreams of having a large family. I even planned to be a stay-at-home-mom.

denial 3

One evening in our cozy apartment, as my husband and I were watching a sitcom, I started doing the math in my head. We had unprotected sex a little over a week ago and my period app was indicating that intimate night was right over ovulation. I sent a close friend the freak-out text, I think I might be pregnant! We couldn’t have a baby now! We were poor newlyweds. You have sex, you get pregnant, rang through my head. What was I thinking by having sex?? That was the longest 5 days of my life. I didn’t even know how to pee on a pregnancy test! Those were the days when I was glad to see my period.

Whew! That was a close one! We couldn’t let that happen again. So, we were extra careful after that.

My sister announced her pregnancy. Then a second. My sister-in-law announced her pregnancy. Then a second. My thoughts were confirmed. I was surely extra fertile! So, we were extra careful!

Friends were getting married. Friends were having babies. We were so glad we were waiting a couple years to have kids. We needed time to establish our marriage and get to know each other. God was going to bless us. Children are a blessing. God blesses those who honor Him. So, we may-as-well hold all the kids off as long as we could, right?

I had a very regular cycle. Sometimes heavy and very painful, but that was normal, right? As far as I could tell, my body worked just fine. When you have unprotected sex, you get pregnant. Pay no attention to the fact that we had been married for 3 years and had no accidental baby. But the thought did cross my mind. I remember that moment clear as day—The questions rolled around in my mind. What if we were that couple that couldn’t have kids? How would I feel? What would I do? What would people think of us? How would our friends treat us? No! Couldn’t be us! I was extra fertile! I pushed all those fears and questions down.

We were both finally ready to start a family. I couldn’t wait to have a baby! I had waited for this next phase of my life—well—my whole life! Some of my closest friends had already established little families and I wanted so badly to be part of that world too. I happily sat through baby showers watching expectant mothers open their pastel gifts; dreaming of how I would decorate my nursery. I visited our friends celebrating their new births on the labor and delivery floor with giant balloons and blooming flowers. The baby blues were kicking in—hard and fast. I wanted a baby in my arms yesterday.

I couldn’t believe I didn’t get pregnant that first cycle! I had read all the fertility books, taken my temperature religiously every morning, swallowed more supplements than I could count, and I was already eagerly reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I was completely prepared for my fertile body to grow a human. A friend of mine was coaching me through the preparation of TTC (trying to conceive). I thought I had this cycle by the horns! “It’s alright. Sometimes it takes a few months…” My coaching friend assured me.

Another friend of mine and I had been texting for a few weeks. I had opened up to her that we had started TTC. She was thrilled for me. Her and her husband were going to start TTC soon also. We shared supportive texts. It had been about 7 months of actively trying when we had this couple over for dinner one night. I served a beautiful meal with coordinating wine. Throughout the night my friend kept getting up to use the restroom and I noticed she hadn’t finished her wine…in fact, I realized her husband had been sneaking too many sips from it! When we were cleaning the kitchen together, I excitedly asked if she was pregnant. “Yes.” She blushed. “I’m 11wks.” I shrieked and hugged her. She continued on about how she couldn’t believe it took 2 whole cycles. Deep down, my heart sank. We had been trying 3x’s longer, but this was normal for it to take a while. It’s not a big deal. She got lucky in 2 cycles, right?

denial 4

I held out hope. Or I should say, I settled down into that comfortable place of denial. It did the job. It masked the fear and uncertainty—the pain. If I told myself enough times that a baby would happen for us, then I could survive the next bloody period. Maybe I needed more royal jelly. I researched everything under the fertility topic! I knew so much about trying to conceive naturally and the male / female reproductive system, I could’ve easily claimed to be a fertility specialist. We weren’t that couple. We weren’t the ones who were struggling to conceive. . .

-love Anna

Adopt-ions

As you navigate through options and choices in your own life, an option is adopting children.

Because my husband was adopted when he was almost 2, we had always considered adoption as a comfortable option for us.  There are many directions to consider- foreign or domestic.  Agency or private.  Interstate or intrastate.   Infant or older child.

Visit agencies, explore different countries adoption policies, and find an option you are comfortable with.  Some rules will seem odd- like China’s BMI restriction; yet they must be considered in your situation.

Conversations should be had with your spouse about what you would consider: biological family history, medical information, race, gender, nationality.  Would you consider an open adoption- with one or both biological parents still in the picture?  Come to an agreement on the details so the process will be easier if a question should arise.  Listen to your partner’s answer; you’re in this together.

Once you settle on the agency or private, you’ll need to ‘market’ yourselves.  I helped a friend with proofreading her stories and it is pitching yourself (your home, your lifestyle, your stability financially and socially/emotionally) to the potential parent(s).  If you are with an agency, they will help you create marketing like a website, publications, or pamphlets.  Pull pictures and tell stories that highlight your life and what you can offer a child.  Speak to the mother who will be considering you while looking through a pile of profiles.  What makes you unique?  What are you offering to make her sacrifice worth choosing you?  Consider the mother who is carrying a child and has to make the biggest decision, to date, of her life.  If you are not a good writer, ask a friend or family member to help.

There are country and state specific rules and guidelines; research and find an agency who handles/specializes in the area of your choice. You’ll need an attorney as well.  If you are considering options outside your state, you’ll need an attorney at each location.  For instance, an attorney in the state/country where the child is born and then an attorney in your state.

Finally, be intentional with whom you share your decisions.  We found that when we would say we were considering adoption, certain people gave us their ‘worst case scenario’ stories.   We quickly became more intentional, choosing who we spoke with about these details.  You don’t owe anyone an explanation on not sharing intimate details and decisions.

I have family and friends (and my husband) who are or have adopted.   My godson is a precious intrastate adoptee who is a well loved, charming toddler.  Adoption is a good option for many.

-Elle

Nothing Less – Introduction

Over the next several weeks, I would like to look back on my walk through infertility and childless grief. I’ll share each stage I experienced in complete rawness and honesty. There’s nothing light about this. There’s nothing easy about living it or sharing it. It’s ugly feelings. It’s unseen tears. It’s broken prayers. It’s suffocating conversations. It’s lonely nights.

Deep grief can destroy people. It’s a war zone. The battle of trying to walk a life of faith and the excruciatingly painful realization of reality. A part of my soul is still complete devastation, but Jesus has not left me or abandoned me. My journey through grief is ribboned with Jesus’ healing hands. I ran to Him; I reached out and touched the fringe of His garment. I might not have physical healing like the woman in Luke 9, who reached through the crowds and touched His clothes, but I have healing in my heart. I might not understand His will for my life, but I know He has called me to it! I will pick of the pieces of my soul and praise Him for the perfect sovereignty that covers me. I am His. I want nothing less.

Hem 1

-love Anna

“But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’” Isaiah 43:1-3a

Fostering Love

As you, dear reader, navigate through options and choices in your own life, an option is fostering children.

The role of foster mother is unique to that of mother.  They are the same and different at the same time.  As a mother, you bond with ‘your’ children.  Having any kids is a blessing and challenge.  As a mother, you want to protect your child from harm.  You teach them from a young age about stranger danger, kiss their wounds, and hold their hand.  As a foster mother, you experience grief from the harm that your child has already experienced.   You can’t protect them from the past; they’ve already come through the experience.  However, as a foster mother, you can be there for early intervention- seeking counseling on weekends or seeking a counselor at school.  You can advocate for them at school by educating them on coping mechanisms and calming techniques and possibly IEPs (individualized education plans).   And you can ensure that other children are unharmed around them.

As a mother, you want to shelter your child from grief.   A biological child may lose a pet or an older family member to death.  As a foster mother, your child is grieving the loss of a parent (maybe both parents), possibly siblings, extended family, former foster families, school friends, and sometimes whole communities.  Because many foster children move placements, changes in address lead to no contact with the previous neighbors, friends, or family.  As children learn that a change means loss, they can have problems attaching to care givers.  This can be a hardship as a new mother to consider that bonding can be difficult due to past experience/loss.

There are state specific rules and guidelines- should you be considering fostering, reach out to a local agency for training and next steps.

We are grateful for the years we had with our children.  Although they moved on, they remain forever in my heart.  I pray for them and think of them often.

-Elle