Posts filed under The Process

Hail, Mary

I was shopping for clothes when it happened.

I grabbed my phone and checked my email out of habit.  In the middle of the mundane was an email so unobtrusive I almost missed it. 

Hi, Elora. We had a hospital birth. We're showing your profile. 

I remember shoving the phone in my pocket. I didn't even react until I got outside and was able to call my best friend. I couldn't handle all of the emotions at once and told her, "so this happened. I don't know how I feel. I think I feel nothing. But ask me again in about 30 minutes because I may be losing my shit." 

That was a year ago. 

And I did lose my shit. I knew it would happen because it always does. These are the moments where if I could, I would pluck my answer out of the ether. And there are times where it feels as if the energy around me is so electric that if I try hard enough, I can make it happen. Obviously, this hasn't happened yet. But it's a strange feeling to experience and leaves you feeling lit from the inside with a flame that can't be quenched.

I didn't sleep for days. Instead, I paced the apartment. I got paint on my fingers. I tore up books and taped the pages on our bedroom wall. I etched prayers into canvases and covered them with acrylic and tears. 

It took a week for us to find out that the mom would be keeping her baby, but the effects of the week lingered long after the news. This doesn't surprise me. When you've gone so long forgetting / denying you're even part of the process, the surprise of hope can sink into your molecular structure and change you when you're not looking.

.::.

I've been thinking of those days lately. Maybe it's because we're approaching another hard season. This one is ripe with anniversaries. 

Anniversary of our placement. 
Mother's Day.
Anniversary of the birth. 
Anniversary of the birth mom keeping him. 
Father's Day. 

Every year, from about mid-March until about July, I remind myself to breathe. 

Eventually, the breathing gets easier. The spontaneous weight of grief also seems to grow easier to bear.

.::.

Yesterday, I woke up at 3am. One of our dogs decided he needed to drink enough for two camels, and whether it was the pull of the new moon or an internal shift or the amount of naps I had while sick last week, I never went back to sleep.

In the midst of my tossing and turning, I remembered a name that popped into my head the night before. Rather than counting sheep, I took to rolling the name around my tongue to see how it felt. It only seemed to make me more alert. Eventually I got up and walked around our apartment, whispering prayers and giving in to yoga. 

Help me find the story, I prayed while saluting the sun. 

Later in the day I texted Russ.

"What do you think about this name?" 

"I like it," he replied. "Do you have a feeling?" 

I almost started crying right there at my desk. How does one answer a question like that? And how did I find myself with someone who understands the cemented way these feelings wrap around me like certainty?

"Not really," I said. "I just can't stop thinking about the name so I thought I'd get your thoughts."

Today though...today I have a feeling.

.::.

We were listening to a guy tell a story about a wedding when she leaned over and handed me a necklace.

"It's Mary," she whispered. "From the Vatican." 

I held the chain in my hand and ran my fingers over the raised medal. 

"For me?" I mouthed.

She smiled. "Yes." 

I put it on immediately and felt the way Mary pressed up against my skin, a constant reminder of her presence.

I thought to myself as I turned my attention back to the concert, did you know He was coming? Before they told you — did you know? 

.::.

There are a lot of things I don't know. 

I think in some ways, I thought this would get easier as I got older. 

Figure out a life plan...check.
Buy a house...check.
Reach relationship goals...check. 

I'm finding out it's pretty much the exact opposite. None of these things are a given, and they definitely aren't easily understood. The only thing I really ever know for sure is the feeling I get when something is happening with the adoption. It's like the gift of intuition times a million with the added bonus of fireworks and goosebumps because it has to do with your future child. And I wish I could explain to you the way it feels to have your heart suddenly shift in focus and kneel down, ears to the ground, because the vibration of promise is moving closer and closer. It feels like a metal rod poking your gut. It feels like you can't help but twist and kneel on the ground yourself. It feels like a pressure building in your throat. It feels like I need to go quiet and get still. It feels like I need to get out in the wild and scream and run through the fields. 

It feels like hope and fear and anticipation and grief and love and sorrow and joy and peace and it's all wrapped up in an excruciatingly confusing skin that doesn't know how to handle the restlessness inside.

.::.

Tonight I texted the one who gave me Mama Mary to wear around my neck. 

"My intuition is going a little haywire re: adoption. Will you pray with me?" 

She responded almost immediately that she would, and "is he coming for Easter?!"

I told her I didn't know. And then I tried to explain how I felt, because i knew she would understand, and I told her all I knew was that I kept finding myself touching the indention of Mary on my necklace. 

Hail Mary, full of grace....

She responded. 

The Lord is with thee. 

And then I started to cry. 

Posted on March 8, 2016 and filed under The Process, Mom-Heart.

reality is a mangled hope.

I'm sitting here in my office, staring at the clouds in the sky out the bay window, and thinking about Easter and Good Friday and the death and life of Holy Week. 

But not really. Because in every breath, in every movement, there's a thread of maybe in my bones that I haven't felt in years and I don't know how to act — how to believe in the midst of this week. It's hard to believe when there was a time everything you knew for sure collapsed underneath you.  

In the past month, Russ and I have had more movement in our adoption than we've had in the past two years. We still haven't heard anything. This isn't an announcement. There's still nothing official and come later today or next week I may be wanting to erase this post from existence. 

But right now, my reality is a mangled hope attempting to find its breath again.

I told one of my best friends the other week that there's a barbaric cynicism preventing me from truly hoping — from letting myself go there — probably because I know the pain a broken heart brings, however expected, and I try to avoid that thank you very much. 

And yet, with a single email, our lives can shift into an anticipatory wait rather than purposefully ignoring the changing table stuffed in our closet. 

This is what happened on Saturday. I was shopping, my mind on anything but this, when my inbox startled me with words like birth mom and hospital call and showing your profile. 

I had no idea how to handle the information. I laughed, actually. Laughed and blinked and hit the home button of my phone, dropping it into the pocket of my shorts. 

Out of sight, out of mind. 

But not out of mind. Not really. Not in the least. Almost instantaneously these thoughts and emotions and feelings came swirling up my chest, greeting me in the throat. 

Pain. Hope. Grief. Excitement. Frustration. Anger. Beauty. Love. Fear. Doubt. Cynicism. Belief.

This is normal. Talk to me about our adoption on any day of the week and I'll be detached and formal. It's easier that way. Just give you the facts, shrug when I get to a difficult moment because that's easier than crying, and swallow the emotions. 

Talk to me about our adoption in the midst of a maybe and you'll find an emotional Elora who doesn't know how to handle the situation because how do you? How do you hold space for the grief of a family separated and the hope of one brought together? How do you believe on the behalf of your heart, barely beating with the rhythm of motherhood, at the same time you're bowing your head on behalf of people you've never even met?

And I mean, let's be completely honest. How do you hold the weight of a decision when it's not you? How do you hold the anger and the frustration and the grief and ALL OF THE QUESTIONS because what's the purpose of going through this time and time and time and time again when every single one of them is a no?

It makes you exhausted. It makes you question. It makes you cynical. 

Until the next maybe — the next email — when all of the sudden every single emotion reminding you of your hope and desire reappear against your greatest attempt at stuffing them away for safe keeping. And just like that, every breath points back to this child you don't even know and yet miss with every waking moment. Just like that, you're looking around your apartment and wondering where you would put the crib and how you could,rearrange your space for the little bundle taking up residence in a swing or changing table or blanket on the floor in the now-open-space where the dogs used to wrestle. 

And you're doing every single one of these with the hesitancy of a wounded heart.

Because it's one thing to live a maybe by yourself, in the privacy of your mind and soul, and it's something entirely different allowing others to see your vulnerability. Please just let this be it becomes your prayer not only because of you and your tired waiting arms, but also because you really don't want to share the thousandth no with everyone who waits and inhales and holds their breath along with you. 

Posted on April 3, 2015 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

some honesty.

I'm not sure when the shift occurred. 

Maybe it was when night crested on Christmas day and we marked another year-we-never-thought-would-pass-without-a-child.

Or maybe it was when a side comment occurred reminding me of how many people started after we did and now have tiny feet and tiny fingers filling their view.

Or maybe it was when my year of risk folded into a year of soft and I realized—I'm just too tired. 

.::.

I've mentioned it before, how easy it is to simply forget you're in the middle of an adoption process. You go day-by-day and you're in this limbo of invisible pregnancy and no one knows. There's no internal shifting, no slight butterfly whispers of baby kicks. It's just you, just your spouse, just the empty closet-turned-nursery-turned closet again.

Over the past year and a half, I've avoided planning things. I've kept my calendar wide open—as much as possible—because of the what if of how our world can change. There was a slight reprieve in the spring, when we had a definitive date pointing us toward something. I'd even say this summer was included, because no way in hell did we expect anything to happen after having the unthinkable happen twice.

But slowly the thoughts came back—first in brief momentary glimpses and then full-on waves of emotion. It could be today. It could be today. What if it's today. 

And well, after a few months of that, you get exhausted. 

.::.

"Thank God we can't tell the future. We'd never get out of bed." - Tracy Letts, August: Osage County

If I knew what I know now—if I could see how long this would last or how much heartbreak it would cause, I'm not sure if I would do it all again. I say that knowing after it's all said and done, when the wait is over and the pain dulls, my thoughts will change.

But now? I just don't know.

And so I'm scheduling into June. I have a significant trip planned in April. I'm daydreaming about vacations Russ and I can take in the summer. I'm hiring an intern and working on expanding Story Sessions. I'm tossing out my yoga mat every morning and making routines and creating rituals.

I can't live in the world of maybe today anymore. 

The definite one day has turned to maybe in my heart. And I don't know what to think about that, but for now, I'm just holding the empty space. 

It's not my job to fill it with hope and expectation anymore.

Posted on January 11, 2014 and filed under Faith, The Process.

for when you know.

IMG_4163.1.jpg

Perhaps you remember the first time we filled you in on some news. Some friends of ours knew beforehand and gifted us with some amazing pictures, and we parked in an illegal parking lot in downtown Austin and snuck onto the property of a pretty exclusive hotel (they have gates, people) and held the little baby girl onesie and smiled and tried to hide our nerves because it was official. 

We were going to be parents.

And then in less than a week, I wrote another post because I needed to let you know: as official as this whole thing is, it could still not work out. Remember that? I think it's where I began to worry.

Or maybe it was when the birth mom looked at us and told us, "you know, I'm so excited about this pregnancy. I mean, I always wanted a daughter and I can just picture her nursery filled with Hello Kitty stuff..." and "have you considered the name ABCDE? I always loved that name..."

In any case, the strength to finish out those ten weeks seemed almost insurmountable most days. But in what seemed like a single breath, ten weeks made their way down to four, and before we even knew for sure that the birth mother was going to keep the baby girl, I knew deep in my bones.

I was standing at the sink when I felt it. I was talking with a friend and she off-handedly made a comment about us needing to do something before the baby came in November. The feeling sprang up from a place I didn't even know existed: I don't want this baby, I thought. And then I freaked because ohmigosh. This isn't the baby we're supposed to adopt. 

I brushed off the instinct as nerves - the due date was fast approaching and I knew enough of the emotions and hormones from my friends (pregnant and adoptive moms alike) to know how our bodies react in all sorts of ways before our lives are changed irrevocably.

So when we received the phone call letting us know we wouldn't be parents, the mourning I felt was real but expected. 

Which, if you've ever experienced anything similar, you know that's a perfect storm. 

These past few months have been incredible. I mean that. More than a few times, I find myself smiling because all this? The story-coaching, the eCourses, the book ideas, the ideas swirling - none of it would have happened.

We received another call on Wednesday.

I'll fill you in on the story later. What I want you to know now: there's something to be said of knowing. And in less than two months and 16 days, Russ and I will bring home our son.

----

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Posted on March 19, 2013 and filed under The Process, Jubilee.

two years

Yesterday marked two years. On November 5, 2010, I never imagined it would take this long. Even when we sent in paperwork for international adoption, the Ethiopian process averaged out to be a little over a year. But this quickly changed - along with the landscape of adoption overseas. God moved in our hearts and we realized for us, for now, international adoption wouldn't be where we found our child.

So we switched to domestic and even in that switch I never anticipated it being another year and a half before hearing anything. If you would have told me two years ago I'd be sitting on my bed on November 6, 2012 with no child around me, I most likely would have cowered from the whole thing.

I say all this not to evoke pity but to explain just how much I cling to God's providence.

Some friends of ours brought home their son yesterday.

They shared with us a small piece of the story - how they were reminded of God as Father and not some detached Being somewhere in the cosmos doing whatever He wants. He listened to their prayers. He knew their hearts and knew the desperation of wanting to see their son.

And He answered in a way far beyond their expectations.

This is why I cling to His timing. Trust me. This whole hurry up and wait of adoption is grueling at best. In moments of frustration and confusion on why this is taking entirely too long, I remember His faithfulness. When other people who started international adoption after we did and bring home their children before we do, I remember His purpose.

And when friends go through the wait and celebration right alongside us, I remember His love and I know despite what I feel - He knows. He sees our child and holds him or her in His hand.

Posted on November 6, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

when never comes

The countdown read one month, five days, nineteen minutes and thirty-two seconds when I deleted it from my phone. I received a text Thursday night, but we didn't really know anything for certain until Friday morning. As of yesterday, we are officially on the wait list again. The reasons are long and not worth hashing out here on a public space, but it's been the most difficult twenty-four hours we've experienced in a long time.

It can get overwhelming: the lack of knowing tends to gnaw at you in the deepest places. And now, having to re-structure my brain into an all-together different kind of waiting has been harder than expected. There's the obvious changes - canceling a baby shower set for next weekend, deleting my babycenter account telling me of the baby's progress, and forcing myself to walk past the baby section at Target. But there's also the subtle changes - the way my mind automatically went to the holidays knowing we'd be parents or the baby clothes overflowing from the organizer in our closet. The closet we recently emptied in order to make ready our daughter.

Perhaps I've known for awhile this was coming - I've hinted at the fear of hearing our countdown would turn to never for a few weeks now. You don't anticipate it, though. No matter what you feel, you always seem to try and hang on to faith.

And we're still clinging now - despite the fear, the hurt, the confusion - we cling to the Truth that someday, our baby will be home. Someday, never will be a memory. But for now, it's our reality.

Pray for us?

Posted on September 29, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

some news.

IMG_4136.1

i've thought about writing this post for awhile. i guess it's fitting that now when it's time, i find no words.

the short of it :: a little over a week ago, we found out that if everything goes as planned, in ten weeks we'll be parents to a beautiful baby girl. 

there's so much to this story. so much my heart wishes to share - so much God has taught me in such a few days. but know this :: He's at work and it's breathtaking to see.

i'll share everything soon - i promise. there's just some things i need to work out in my heart before laying it bare for the world to see, you know? and this - this right here - is sacred.

Posted on August 26, 2012 and filed under Adoption, Faith, The Process.

a non-update update

i'll be honest :: i haven't posted anything because to update would mean to remind myself of the grinding halt of the adoption process. we're still waiting on a few small pieces of our home study - namely our TB tests. because of our schedule, it's difficult finding time to make our way to the clinic to do this. other than this small prick of skin, nothing is holding us back - well. except for money.

we've come to that place every couple adopting seems to find themselves at least once during their process - the brick wall of funding. adoption isn't cheap, and there aren't any payment plans set up by agencies. it's usually pay-as-you-go and if you don't have the money well...you stop.

some days i handle this better than others. most days i remember this is all in His timing anyway, so none of this surprises Him.

but there are other days where the wait is harder to swallow.

for reasons i can't go into here, there are so many things hinging on time and funding over these next few months. we're finding ourselves at an impasse not just with our adoption, but with every single decision we're facing. this wears the patience thin.

like...wafer thin.

couple that with the growing desire to hold my baby in my arms and you have the formula for a highly-emotional woman.

so this is our non-update update. we're sitting a little stagnant right now and if you are the praying type, more than anything we'd love your prayers sent on our behalf.

Posted on March 28, 2012 and filed under Mom-Heart, The Process.

the hurry up of wait

A few months ago, I whispered a prayer: God, do something in this adoption that makes it apparent You were behind it. Make it blatantly obvious we had nothing to do with it...

Last time I wrote, we were a few hours short of meeting our caseworker and I was struck with the flu.

As most things in adoption, we ended up not having our home-study that day.

Some friends came over and helped us clean and brought us breakfast. The night before, we'd been ordered to rest and that the cleaning {what was left of it} would happen in the morning. When Saturday came, I couldn't have been more thankful for friends who refuse to hear no.

Both Russ and I wheezed and vacuumed and {begrudgingly} passed over the mop so we could rest. As soon as we were finished, Russ received a phone call from our case worker letting us know she was stuck in Houston. It was stormy in Austin but down right scary where she was and some of the roads were already closing.

Russ looked at me when he got off the phone and I fought back the tears. I felt so sick, so exhausted and so defeated. 

"Looks like you guys get a built-in day of rest." I glanced at our friend, leaning against our counter, and managed a small smile. He was right - I knew it. But it still didn't answer the question of why. 

And then, somewhere between my frustration of getting ready and having the study being pushed back a day and my collapse into bed, I just stopped worrying.

and uh...this is a huge deal for me. 

Perhaps God allowed for me to come down with a sickness that rendered me immobile for the sole purpose that I'd understand this isn't about me. Just like I posted before, everything is in God's hands.

So the home study came on Sunday, and God worked miracles so I wasn't coughing up a lung and my fever waited until she shut the door and left. I can't emphasize enough the feeling of relief and gratitude of being done with everything - and having felt sustained through the whole process. When everything was said and done, I fell against Russ' chest and let it all soak in - the movement of the process, the apprehension, the nervousness.

But most of all, I let myself relish the fact that a known stranger recognized the mother's heart within me. And even more, she let us know our wait - albeit never guaranteed - may not be much of a wait for very long.

So now we're experiencing the hurry up of hurry up and wait. There's still a few stray papers we're collecting to finish the home study. Once we're approved, we'll owe our next installment and will officially be on the wait list.

And this wait is what makes me the most nervous of all.

We'd appreciate your prayers over the next few weeks and months. We'll {hopefully} have everything in by the beginning of March and then everything starts moving quickly it seems. There's no set timeline, no definitive. We covet prayers for protection, wisdom and peace. Most of all, we ask for prayer over our future child and the birthmother.

I've learned again and again there's really not much Russ and I can do to speed the process up in any way. Even our home study - although almost complete - was on a different day than originally scheduled. So I'm clinging to my one word for this year, resting in His promise, and praying for the day I'm holding our baby for good.

Posted on February 28, 2012 and filed under Faith, The Process.

letting go of as-planned.

i am reminded daily - no - hourly that this whole adoption thing isn't in my hands. meaning: things don't always go as planned.

in december, we had our homestudy interviews. this was the first part of the "interrogation" as russ & i like to put it. it wasn't bad - we got through it - and our social worker let us know she'd get back with us after the first of the year to schedule our home visit.

...we're still waiting.

i'm currently battling this ever-present need to call every second of the day until i hear her voice on the other end of the line. i'm trying not to fall into the "crazy-mother" category though, so i refrain. this is hard. i'm pretty sure i've scrubbed and rearranged and hid under the covers many times this past month when i think about it. you want so badly to control areas and when you're waiting for a phone call, it can just about send you over the edge.

i know timing is essential with adoption. i know once i'm holding our baby all will make sense. right now though? right now it's difficult to not get frustrated with the process.

this past weekend russ & i scheduled our fingerprints. because of our schedules, we couldn't manage the same day. i fingerprinted friday and almost had to reschedule - the government's system was malfunctioning and the worker didn't want to deal with the computer "that late in the day."

it was 4:00pm.

i got them done, though and expected russ to have no issues. his fingerprints were scheduled for yesterday. thinking his appointment was at 3:50, he got off work early, stopped by the house to pick up his fast pass, and headed to the facility. he ended up being 30 minutes early, but this didn't matter because somehow between us getting our schedules and receiving the confirmation e-mail, the system didn't mark him down with an appointment.

he called me and i was already on my way home. driving down the highway, i immediately started looking for a place to pull over and steal wi-fi for just a second so i could send him the receipt. apparently, the confirmation email wasn't enough. he needed the receipt proving he scheduled. no problem. i pulled over at starbucks, just in time, and sent off the email right as he entered the building right at 4:30 - his original appointment time.

the lady already left.

i really can't describe how frustrating of a feeling it was to hear she left - even though she knew his appointment was set for 4:30 and was trying to get the paper to prove it. i called the agency then, hoping for some answers, and reached another brick wall. again, i can't even describe how maddening it was to hear the lady on the phone explain to me russ had no appointment listed - that the last appointment they had in the system was from october of 2010.

i was explaining some of this last night to my counselor. she looked at me and shook her head, "i can't imagine how this must feel, elora. i can only assume it's a little like feeling you're waiting one day past your due-date."

and this single statement captured what i'm reminded of every day: this process is so similar to being pregnant. the waiting, the expectation, the knowing a little one will soon be in your arms. however, this process is so...different from being pregnant. the waiting is indefinite. the expectation counters a fear that's ever-present. and sometimes, in the middle of life as planned, you begin to wonder despite the knowing. will we ever be placed? will this person ever call? will we ever have a meeting or an appointment that doesn't have a hitch?

there's nothing else to do but accept it, really. suck it up, take a deep breath, and reschedule appointments. set my shoulders and make another phone call.

eventually, our waiting will end.

Posted on January 31, 2012 and filed under The Process.

the stranger.

over the next two days, russ & i will be sharing our life with a stranger. tomorrow, the social worker will call me. tuesday, russ. and over the phone, we will be asked questions normally not asked by the best of friends. we will be judged, i'm sure - and eventually find out whether or not we're lacking the basic "do-goodery" of a proper parent.

which begs the question: what makes a good parent?

is it your background? your desire to have kids? your calling? is it your ability to budget and lock away an emergency fund?

what about if you have chemicals under the sink or forgot to clean the bathroom yesterday or make your bed? are you a good parent even if you fail to buy toilet paper when you go to the store?

these may seem like silly questions, absurd even. but these questions are eerily similar to what we'll be facing over the next 48 hours when talking with the social worker. am i nervous? yeah. kinda. but at the same time, i'm resting in the fact that this whole process has just kind of left my hands. there's nothing i can control about it. my life is what it is - my past can't change and the fact that i have student loans won't change either.

here's the thing: despite feeling probed and pricked and let's face it - openly vulnerable - the one thing i hope our social worker sees in both russ & i is hope. we may not know everything. i'm sure she'll raise her eyebrow at a few of our answers. and when the time comes for her to walk through our house, there will most likely be something forgotten on the list.

but i just have to remind myself: there is nothing i can do to change His timing. nothing. and before the creation of the world, our baby was formed and loved and planned to fit perfectly within our arms.

and that's enough for me to hang on to - even through the questions.

Posted on December 11, 2011 and filed under The Process.