Another Holiday Pregnancy Announcement That Isn’t Mine

As a child, I anxiously looked forward to Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to see what Santa had brought my sister and me. When I was six years old, I remember thinking I heard Santa’s reindeer on our roof. I excitedly ran into my sister’s room and jumped onto her bed and said, “Did you hear that?!” Playing along, my older sister said, “Yes!” The remainder of that conversation has drawn blank on me. But, I can still see two little girls giggling and smiling just thinking about what the next morning would bring.

For many, the Christmas season exudes a sense of celebration, joy, excitement, awe, and wonder, and it should. After all, over 2,000 years ago our Savior was born. If that isn’t something to celebrate with family and friends, then I don’t know what is. But, for some, this holiday season is a reminder of great loss and pain. Perhaps the mother who used to greet you on Christmas morning with a pancake breakfast is no longer on this earth. Perhaps sitting in the living room on Christmas Eve reading the Christmas story feels different this year with the passing of your father. Maybe you were looking forward to sharing your pregnancy announcement with family and friends, but instead you are grieving the loss of your unborn child.

One of the most difficult holidays for me was Christmas 2014. Our baby’s due date was near the end of November, and I remember the anxiety that was building in my heart as the days moved toward Christmas. We were living in Louisiana at the time, and it was 70 degrees all during the month of December—bright and sunny. But I remember my heart felt very cold. I didn’t want to put up a Christmas tree, but Obbie insisted. And so, I obliged begrudgingly. I felt like there was absolutely nothing to celebrate. The baby who was supposed to be less than 30 days old and snuggling in my arms wasn’t there.

The influx of holiday pregnancy announcements filled my newsfeed. It was complete torture, but there I would find myself in the late hours of the night scrolling mindlessly through Facebook with a sad heart. Another holiday pregnancy announcement that isn’t mine, I would think to myself. Then the Christmas family photos would come—the ones with young couples and their children smiling.

Later that night, I saw a picture of six-year-old Kelly from Christmas smiling ear to ear. In that moment, I felt so distant from that little girl who was filled with so much awe and wonder. Those feelings were foreign to me. Obbie and I spent Christmas of 2014 with friends, and even though I was surrounded by a ton of people with their excited faces and giggling voices, I felt sad, empty, and alone. 

Although I am medically deemed infertile and though my womb is barren, my heart is full. And it isn’t just because our hearts (and hands!) are filled to the brim with the sweetest and silliest 18-month-old twins running around the house. After our miscarriage and before we started the adoption process, I was reminded that joy would never come through a positive pregnancy test, a child, or anything that this earth has to offer. The ultimate joy I was looking for, hoping for, and so desperately longing for was something that had already been given to me. It wasn’t a gift to be opened under the tree; it was found in the arms of my Savior. God was faithful to heal our hearts, even though our circumstances didn’t change. And as we continually ran to Him and (sometimes) fell into His arms, He filled us with the fullness of His joy. Not a temporal kind of joy, but an eternal one, the kind that enables you to sing, “It Is Well with My Soul” through life’s deepest wounds.

The holidays can bring about a sadness that on an ordinary day may exist, but during the holidays, it can seem more apparent. You are not alone. Perhaps you feel hopeless in your sadness. Perhaps your heart couldn’t feel farther from that warm, sunny, and 70-degree day. If you need to take a break from the holiday festivities, then do so, and don’t feel guilty that you have to step away from all of the excitement. But as you step away and as you grieve, my prayer for you is that you would not grieve without hope. May Christ give you the strength to grieve with hope knowing that God is the healer, protector, and redeemer of your heart. Grieve with hope knowing that God’s love for you is insurmountable and goes deeper than the pain and hurt encompassing you. Grieve with hope knowing that one day, the load you carry will feel lighter as you continue bringing your burdens to the cross. Grieve with hope knowing that the winter won’t last forever and the sun will come out again.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Adopt

My intention of writing this post isn’t to evoke fear or scare you out of adoption. There are many reasons that families journey through adoption. Unfortunately, there are some unhelpful factors that may motivate a family’s desire to pursue adoption. If you find yourself identifying with one of these reasons, I encourage you to reach out to a pastor, counselor or adoption professional and talk through these issues.

1. You are looking for the perfect child.
The perfect child doesn’t exist, just like the perfect parent doesn’t exist. Attempting to grow your family with the mindset of gaining a perfect kid, whether it be through adoption or biologically, can be extremely detrimental to the wellbeing of a child. Although issues and needs may not be apparent initially in your child, they will come. And when they do, if you are functioning with this mentality you may not be equipped to tend to the needs of your little one. Also, I can’t even begin to express the long-term effects this mindset could have on the mental health of your child. Dr. Moore puts it well: “If you want your “dream baby,” do not adopt or foster a child: buy a cat and make-believe…Such a mindset hurts the child, and countless other children and families. Adoption is about taking on risk as cross-bearing love.”

2. You are looking to be a hero or a savior.
By definition, the savior complex is an individual who feels the need to help others to fill a void in their life. People who struggle with a savior complex are typically searching to find love and acceptance through their self-perceived good deeds. But, children don’t need to be saved or rescued by you. They need unconditional and unwavering love. Adopting a child into a home that upholds this outlook could produce feelings of debt in a child; thinking in some way they owe you something. Adoptive parents didn’t “save” their children. We are just parents who desperately love our kids. But, ultimately keep in mind, they already have a Savior, who loves them more than you possibly could. A Hero who died on the cross over 2,000 years ago-for them, for you, for us.

3. You are looking to fill a void.
Whether it’s dissatisfaction in marriage, loneliness, struggling to get over a loss-children were not created to fill a void inside your heart. They need you. They need your love, support, and encouragement. Although many people come to adoption through miscarriage or infertility, it can be dangerous to do so if you haven’t grieved or given your heart time to heal. The grieving process is different for everyone. I’m not implying that you shouldn’t begin the adoption process if you aren’t “over” the loss, as the grieving process is a long journey. However, adoption professionals would discourage you from beginning the adoption process with the intention of using a child to fill a void in your heart. God didn’t create marriage or children to be the ultimate healers or completers of our heart. Only God can satisfy that void in your heart. Walking through the adoption process and life with this mentality will lead to disappointment and unrealistic expectations on your marriage and child.

4. You think it’s the cool, trendy thing to do.
I will never forget the day a stranger approached me at the store, looked down at my children and said, “Your kids are adopted, right? I guess you’re kind of like Angelina Jolie.” I’m so grateful my kids weren’t old enough to understand the ignorance of this statement. You should not adopt because you think it’s trendy or all of your friends are doing it. Perhaps you see pictures of Sandra Bullock or Katherine Heigl with their children and think to yourself it would be a “cool” thing to do. I don’t think Katherine or Sandra would agree with that sentiment. There are many complexities to adoption-complexities that can’t be seen or understood through a mere photo on the cover of a magazine.

5. You think it will be easy.
Adoption isn’t for the faint of heart. Adoption isn’t easy. There are complexities in adoption. There are losses in adoption. There are risks in adoption. It’s important for you to understand this before walking into the adoption process. “Easy” wouldn’t be a word I would use to describe it. And at the same time, it’s of greater importance that you understand that it’s God who equips you with strength and grace to walk through the complexities, losses and risks in adoption. Our heavenly Father is the ultimately Healer, Comforter and Redeemer of all things. He will guide you through the adoption process and for the rest of your family’s journey here on this earth.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Through The Storm {Trusting God With Our Kids}

Do you ever lay in bed worried about the future of your children? Do thoughts plague your mind about them getting sick? Is your child suffering from an illness or mental health disorder and you wonder how you will make it through the day? Are you worried that your child isn’t hitting all of the developmental milestones like the other kids? As parents, there are a hundred fears we could let our thoughts be consumed by. I know this to be true from personal experience.

Eight weeks after we adopted Roman and Ruby, our home, city and the surrounding area were unexpectedly hit with the Great Flood of 2016. The Washington Post stated that this flood dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina. According to the Red Cross, this was the “worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy,” and FEMA reported that over 150,000 homeowners/renters applied for assistance.

Moments leading up to the evacuation I was cooking dinner for Obbie and I. While feeding Roman, I looked out the front door and noticed the water line had risen quite considerably. I frantically pointed this out to Obbie, who quickly ran out the front door to talk with all of the neighbors that had gathered at the edge of their driveways. When I stuck my head out the door, I saw Obbie from a distance. He had a very concerned look on his face. I felt my heart sink into the pit of my stomach. I knew it wasn’t good. He came back inside and said, “Kelly, we have to pack everything up. The water is rising and we have to evacuate immediately.”

I couldn’t find a suitcase so I dragged a large empty trunk into the twin’s nursery. As I walked in, I began to tear up. I had spent so much time preparing, dreaming and hoping in this room. I had flashbacks to all of the countless hours I spent on the floor praying for our baby that the Lord would bring into our home. As I began stuffing all of their clothes and diapers mindlessly into the trunk, I looked to the right and saw the huge frame that read, “I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:27). I stopped. I took a deep breath. And I was reminded that it was God who brought these precious children into our life. They were in His hands and there was no safer place to be. 

We threw as much as we could into the back of our neighbor’s big white truck.  As we slowly waded through the flood, I looked down at my children and began to cry. The water was continually rising, our neighborhood was completely surrounded and there were only a few dry streets left. Those moments didn’t feel as if they belonged to me. It was like we were the characters in the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” where they rushed to the top of the building to prevent from being consumed by the water. I felt completely helpless. I closed my eyes tightly and prayed, “Dear Lord, protect our babies.” It was a prayer of surrender, as I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop the flood. We were in God’s hands.

We were prepared to sleep in our mini van on the side of the road with our friends who evacuated their home too. It was dark, hot and humid. Many people in the area had been rescued by boat and that knowledge was looming over us as we waited. Not long after we arrived, a young woman ran out of her house with a concerned look on her face. “Are y’all the ones with the newborn twins? My husband is working a late shift so the house is empty and our street is still dry. Please come stay with us.” We spent that night and the next day camped out in her living room waiting for the streets to clear. These kind people welcomed us and fed us. God took care of us through the kindness of strangers. As soon as the waters subsided, the twins and I headed 12 hours north to stay with family, while Obbie began gutting our home with the assistance of friends.

We anticipated a lot as parents of newborn twins: sleepless nights, excessive crying, dirty diapers, a messy house, but we couldn’t have prepared ourselves for this disaster. Once the twins and I made it to my parent’s house, I fell on the couch in complete exhaustion. This was not how I imagined the first few months of parenthood. If I’d had known the flood was coming for us I would have said, “I can’t do that. I’m not strong enough.” And I was right. I wasn’t strong enough. There is no way I could have walked down that road without God breathing grace into my lungs.

When we first brought the twins home I was afraid that something terrible was going to happen to them. I would stare at them throughout the night and rarely slept. Sometimes when they’d cough or make what I interpreted to be a weird sound, Google and I would spend some time together. However, through the storm I was reminded that God is not only the Creator of all things, but He is the Keeper of all things. Our heavenly Father has entrusted us with the most precious gifts, and as parents we have the privilege of loving and shepherding our children. On the other side of the flood, I came to understand that one of the most important things I can do as a mother is to remember to whom my children belong. Surrendering my children everyday to God is the best way I can love them. Surrender releases you from fear and worry. It doesn’t eliminate every fearful or worrisome thought, but surrender reminds you where to take them- at the feet of your Savior.

Parents, when you remember that your heavenly Father is the ultimate Keeper of your child’s soul, an overwhelming peace consumes you, a kind of peace that will get you through life’s biggest storms. When worry comes for you as a parent (because it will), I pray God will illuminate your mind with His truth and bring your heart to a place of surrender. My prayer is that you can see what I did as I was holding my children,  with floodwater so high I could feel it splash on my cheeks. God is not only with them through the storm, He is keeping them safe, and upholding them in the very palm His hands.

More Than A Brave Decision

Roman charges at me from across the room and jumps into my lap, bear-hugging me with his arms gripped tightly around my neck, almost knocking me over, all while giggling hysterically. Ruby hears a good beat and instantly begins busting some moves as if she knows the song like the back of her hand, all while belly laughing so hard that she can’t help herself from falling over. She then gets back up again and does the same thing again and again. As I sit back and look at our beautiful children, my heart beams with pride and gratefulness. They are bright little lights to this world, so full of joy. They’ve filled our hearts and home to the brim. I love being their mama. But in these heightened moments of joy and laughter, I can’t help but think of their birth mama and the brave decision she made in choosing adoption for her children. However, it wasn’t just a brave decision; it was the most difficult and heart wrenching decision of her life.

Although I completely understand why people use the word “beautiful” to describe adoption, it’s also a deeply complex and difficult process and can’t be summarized in one word or phrase. There are juxtapositions and tensions in adoption that I sometimes find difficult to absorb. There are three legs to the adoption triad: the adoptee, the birthmother, and the adoptive parents. For the most part, society is only privy to one side of adoption: the parents who have adopted a child. And this is understandable. After all, it’s the relationship our friends and family witness for themselves.

In a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t exist. However, the reality is that we don’t live in a perfect world. We live on the other side of the Fall, where brokenness, pain and death reside. Although beauty can be found in the brokenness of life, it doesn’t erase all of the pain or hurt that one encountered to get there. Regardless of how beautiful adoption can be, there is loss and brokenness within it. When a woman chooses adoption for her child, she is making the most difficult decision of her life. Placing a child for adoption is a sacrificial and selfless act of unconditional love. As the baby grows inside of her womb, the birth mama feels the baby kick and respond to her voice, and she visually sees the child growing inside of her. Can you imagine the emotions she feels as she places her baby into the arms of another woman who her child will one day call “mama?” I can’t imagine that type of loss.

Imagine for a moment leaving the hospital without the child that you grew in your belly for 9 months. As you walk through the door to your home, the quietness overwhelms you. Someone is missing. There is no baby there to wake you up in the middle of the night, there is no baby to feed or sing lullabies to, there is no baby to swaddle and snuggle, and there are no more late night talks to the little one that was growing inside of your belly. Your baby is being cared for by another woman. And you chose this mother and father to be the parents of your child. But, even if you’ve found peace in your decision and are confident that you made the right one, that doesn’t negate all of the pain and feelings of emptiness associated with the loss. Imagine answering questions from curious co-workers and friends about the baby, and having constant reminders like stretch marks or possible scars from the c-section you painfully endured. However, the stretch marks and scars on your body pale in comparison to the scars on your heart. I can’t imagine that type of loss.

Sometimes I am reminded of this loss as I’m rocking the twins to sleep. Roman will look up at me with those beautiful big brown eyes and I can’t help but think of his birth mom. In that moment, I’m overwhelmed by the full weight of the juxtapositions surrounding adoption. Her greatest loss made me a mama. My arms are full while her arms are empty. My house is filled with the sight and sounds of toddlers running around, babbling, throwing toys everywhere and giggling uncontrollable, while her house is quiet. Thinking about all of the “firsts” she will never experience first hand brings the most complex feelings and emotions to the surface. Even now, I find it difficult to articulate these thoughts.

Adoption is more than a brave decision. Adoption is one of the most selfless, sacrificial acts of unconditional love that any human being can do for another, one that entails great loss. The grieving process for birth moms is complex, ongoing and a lifelong process to work through. These women deserve our utmost love, prayers and respect. They have given us a piece of their heart, one that they are entrusting us with forever.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

I’m Not the Empty Woman

My infertility once defined me. Every negative pregnancy test became a reminder of what my body couldn’t do. Baby shower invites would come in the mail and my heart would be overwhelmed with bitterness, jealousy, and a reminder of the brokenness I felt in my soul. A stroll through the maternity aisle at Target felt like walking onto a stage before a mocking crowd, as if a giant spotlight was shining on my empty tummy, reminding me that I was somehow less of woman because of my barrenness.

My entire life I was told the likelihood of having biological children would be very slim due to the cancer treatments I received as a baby. Even so, after we were married I was still optimistic and hopeful that somehow God would heal my body and make it do what He created it do. After all, my God is a God of miracles. I’d seen this to be true in my own life, as He healed my body of cancer more than once.

After a few years of struggling with infertility, to our surprise, a positive pregnancy test appeared. Obbie and I celebrated for days, and a small warmth filled our home. However, the baby announcement was never made. Tragedy struck as quickly as the news came in, and we were only able to keep our little one on this earth for a moment. A few weeks after learning I was pregnant, I miscarried. The weight of that loss dragged me to the bed for hours everyday. I was completely overwhelmed with sadness. My tears bathed the pillow every night, and my eyes were swollen most days from crying. Every ounce of my body was grieving. I felt hopeless. And all of those feelings of brokenness came flooding back over me as heavily and quickly as my tears hit the pillow.

The death of our unborn child felt much to me like being stuck in winter. Although some days were easier than others, certain events and dates would trigger memories and tears would follow. Anger and sadness came in ebbs and flows. But, I continued talking about the loss with God, my husband and close friends. Coming to terms with the death of our baby and the finality of my infertility hasn’t been an easy journey. But, it’s one our heavenly Father has been lovingly walking me through every step of the way. Grace gives me strength to trust Him through the pain, knowing that He is a good Father, who loves me even when I can’t quite make my way through the storm. Although most days I failed to see Him-the Son was always there. And eventually He melted the ice away and replaced my barrenness with hope- not hope in a positive pregnancy test or a child, but hope in Jesus Christ.

A doctor would tell you that I’m infertile, that statistically my chances of getting pregnant are impossible. But, I see it quite differently. God healed me. He just healed me in a different way than expected. God healed my heart to be at peace with my circumstances. Though my heart is content that doesn’t equate to immunity from sadness over our loss or my infertility, but it doesn’t consume my thoughts or define me like it once did.

As healing continued taking place in our hearts, we were continually seeking God about how He wanted to grow our family. We always knew that adoption would be a part of our story some day. However, we didn’t realize that “day” was just around the corner. We signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants and shortly after our paths connected with a brave birth mom who chose us to be the parents of her children. Their birth mom lovingly carried the twins for 9 months in her womb, while God was growing unconditional love for them in our hearts. If any part of our story had unfolded differently or been altered just slightly, Roman and Ruby wouldn’t be our son and daughter. And I can’t imagine our life without them.

For women struggling with infertility or loss you are not defined by a statistic. Perhaps a doctor told you the chances of getting pregnant are slim to none. I understand the magnitude of that loss and the feelings that come with it. But, I also know that our joy can’t be completed from a positive pregnancy test, a child or anything found on this earth. Your body isn’t broken, but Christ’s body was broken for you. An empty womb is not the end of your story, but a Risen King from an empty grave is the beginning.  Christ came to this earth so we could have “life in abundance” (John 10:10). This fullness is explicitly and solely found in Christ alone.

Last night both the twins awoke at the same time, and I lifted each one out of their crib. I rocked them to sleep in the brown leather recliner beside their cribs. One in each arm. As their sweet chunky cheeks rested on my shoulders, they fell asleep with one hand each on my chest. I grinned as I looked down at my son and daughter. Tears of gratefulness filled my eyes as I thought about just how much I love being their mama. As I sat there rocking our little sweeties to sleep, I thought back on our journey to becoming our family of four. I can assure you that there was nothing barren about the women rocking her sweet little ones to sleep last night. Her heart is full. She found her hope in Christ.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

 

Children of My Own

“Are you going to have any of your own children?” he asked. Confused, I looked down in the double stroller at my beautiful children and then directly back at the older gentleman. I could tell by the innocent look in his eyes that he didn’t know what he was asking or implying. I could only muster up five words: “Yes, these are my children.” As I walked away, my stomach churned, and I regretted not taking a few minutes to explain why his choice of words was hurtful. But I had a long list of groceries that day, with 6-week-old twins up every two hours, and exhaustion prevented my lips from expressing what my heart wanted to say.

I’m not so naive as to be surprised by questions like these. However, that doesn’t take away the sting. Perhaps, as a transracial family, it’s just something we’ll have to get used to. But I hope not. I know that my children’s beautiful brown skin looks different than ours, and I love every inch of it. But I also know these differences evoke questions and comments. I don’t want anger or bitterness to linger in my heart after these inquiries. In response to their ignorance, I desire to extend truth and grace. After all, Christ calls us to do so. I don’t believe these people intend to be rude or malicious. However, regardless of the intent, these questions are unsettling because they reveal something deeper. Whether they realize it or not, by their choice of words they’re indicating that they don’t think Ruby and Roman are our “own” children. Even as I type that sentence it feels troubling.

Ruby and Roman are our children. They’re not any “less” our children because they didn’t grow in my tummy for 9 months. They’re not any “less” our children because they don’t have our DNA. From the moment their amazing birth mama told us she wanted us to be their parents, God birthed love for them in our hearts. Roman and Ruby are our son and daughter, and we couldn’t be more proud to be their mom and dad.

I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on my son and daughter. It was on Father’s Day, and they were less than a day old. When the nurse brought in our little man I felt like I had to pull my heart off the floor. He melted me, right then and there with just one glance. As I was holding Roman the nurse wheeled in our little lady. She was so tiny, but even so, she had the cutest chunky cheeks. We held them and just stared in amazement at our two beautiful children. As Roman’s little hand gripped my pinky, I tried to slow down time and soak in those fleeting moments. A few minutes later, I asked Obbie if I could hold Ruby, but he wouldn’t let her go. “Just a little bit longer,” he insisted. There is nothing quite like watching the unconditional love that a father has for his child.

Watching Obbie’s fierce and unconditional love for our children continually reminds me of the love of our Heavenly Father. And it should. Earthly adoption is a beautiful depiction of the Gospel and the heart of God. In Christ, we have been spiritually adopted and welcomed into the family of God. John Piper puts it well, “When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. “ When the twins adoption was finalized, the judge ended the ceremony by stating, “the children shall hereafter be the legal children and legal heirs of the adoptive parents and entitled to all right and privileges…they are your son and daughter as if they were born to you.”

DNA doesn’t make a family-love does. I know just what song to sing to help them get to sleep at night, and I understand that their “I’m hungry” cry is distinct from their “I want my paci” cry. I know they would eat mac n’ cheese everyday for lunch and dinner if I let them. I know just the right song to get them grooving to the beat. I know Ruby loves to read books by herself and Roman prefers sitting in my lap and being read to, as long as I let him turn the pages. I know how to make them giggle just with one silly look. We know them better than anyone on this earth because they are our children.

When we stand before the judgment seat of God, it won’t be our DNA that gets us in to heaven, but the blood of another. The question isn’t one of heredity, but of authority. Does He know us? Are we His child? And if we have been adopted in Christ into His family, we are then legal heirs to inherit all the promises laid out for us in Scripture. Language speaks volumes, even when we’re unaware of our words. The simple question “Are you going to have any of your own children” directed towards an adoptive family betrays a lack of belief and hope in the validity, reality, and finality of our own relationship with Christ and our understanding of the Gospel.

 

More Than An Adoption Consultant

When my husband and I made the decision to grow our family through adoption we were extremely excited! After we began researching, we realized there was so much about the process that we didn’t understand. When I reached out to a local adoption agency I became discouraged by the average wait time, and I didn’t know what questions I needed to be asking. After a few weeks of unfruitful research and trying to do it on our own, we discovered it was much more complex than we anticipated. We needed a map and a guide to help us navigate our journey. I’d heard so many great things about Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC) from some of my close friends so I decided to give them a call.

After I got off the phone with Senior Adoption Consultant, Katie Fenska, I told my husband, “I feel like I’ve known her forever.” She was very kind, helpful, understanding, and she didn’t make me feel ignorant when I asked a hundred questions. I got a strong sense of her genuine care and love for her adoptive families. I also immediately felt peace about our decision to move forward with CAC.

Very quickly I realized she was more than an adoption consultant. Her title of “Senior Adoption Consultant” doesn’t adequately explain the role she had in our adoption journey. Nor does it properly explain what she means to our family. She quickly became a dear friend, our biggest prayer warrior, and our greatest source of encouragement. There were times during our journey when I was overwhelmed by the process and she would just listen. I always left our conversations feeling closer to God and more aware of His hand in our journey, even when the circumstances were uncertain.

From the moment we signed on with CAC it’s as if a heavy weight was lifted off of our shoulders. We knew where the final destination was, but we were clueless how to get there. CAC provided us with a step-by-step reference manual that guided us through the entire adoption process. It was our map! But they didn’t just throw a piece of paper in our direction and expect us to navigate the journey by ourselves. Instead, our consultant became our personal advocate, providing education and guidance every step of the way. She helped us find the right agencies and adoption situation for our family and assisted us in understanding the levels of risk associated with the adoption process. CAC connected us to multiple trustworthy adoption agencies and attorneys, thus drastically cutting down our wait time (our family matched within 3 months!)

I tell everyone that working with CAC was the best and easiest decision we made in our adoption journey. Shortly after the birth of our twins I joined the staff at CAC. I am so grateful to be a part of a team that is passionate about adoption and who genuinely care about our families. Our staff has combined over 45 years of adoption experience! Most of our team has previously adopted and/or are former clients of CAC. It’s because of this that we understand the difficulties, joys and challenges associated with the adoption process as many of us have walked through some of them personally. I love being a part of a team that prays consistently for not only the hopeful adoptive parents, but the expectant mamas and birth families as well. I’m honored to be a part of something that I’m so passionate about and consider it a joy to help guide families through their own adoptive journey.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Mud Pies, Little Treasures & A Holiday At Sea

I put the twins in one of their cribs the other day with half a dozen of their favorite toys so I could clean their room quickly.  A few minutes later Ruby let out a loud screech and stood up with her arms in the air begging to be pulled out of the crib. Assuming Roman had stolen one of her toys again, I chuckled and walked over to see what all the fuss was about. Roman hadn’t stolen one of her toys, but he had ripped off his diaper and claimed the little “surprise” on the inside as his favorite toy. Ruby wanted absolutely nothing to do with Roman’s new little “treasure.”

After I cleaned up Roman and the crib, I started chuckling to myself. I put their favorite toys in the crib and Roman wasn’t satisfied. He was more content with the little “treasure” inside of his diaper than the light-up musical toys surrounding him. But my little man also taught me a lesson that day.

God has offered us Himself, the fullness of joy, and yet we find ourselves chasing after other pleasures that do not and cannot satisfy. Perhaps they can provide momentary satisfaction, but complete fulfillment will never come from this world. How do I know this?

The Bible has endless scriptures promising satisfaction in Christ:

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

C.S. Lewis puts it so well: “Indeed if we consider the unblemishing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Christ has offered us Himself, and has clearly spelled out all of the promises for us in Scripture, and yet we continue to choose the very things that will leave us hollow, empty, and dry. C.S. Lewis says we do this because our desires our not too strong, but rather too weak. What a sobering thought. I’ve seen this to be true in my own life. It can be compared to chasing the wind; placing all of our hope in this one thing and expecting it to fill all of the cracks and crevices in our heart. And yet we’re left with a sense of emptiness, realizing that this one thing wasn’t created to do the thing we were so desperately trying to make it do. Like trying to stuff a star-shaped object into the circle-shape sorter; no matter how many times Roman and Ruby try, it’s not going through. It wasn’t designed to.

Our hearts were uniquely crafted to be completely satisfied in Christ alone. And yet we so easily turn God’s good gifts into idols because we expect them to fulfill a role in our lives for which they were never created. Jobs, family, friends, spouse, children- all good gifts – but if we rely on these gifts to fill our hearts completely we’ll be disappointed. We must always go to the source of the goodness, Christ himself, in order to find the ultimate satisfaction are hearts so desperately desire

“If I could find the perfect spouse I would be happy.”
“If I could have the perfect marriage I would be happy.”
“If I could get pregnant I would be happy.”
“If I could get that promotion at work I would be happy.”
“If I could look like him/her I would be happy.”

I’m convinced that these statements may be true for some, at least temporarily true. Perhaps if you found the perfect spouse and you got the job promotion at work you were pinning for you would be content for a little while. But then time would pass and that empty-pit- feeling in your stomach would consume you again. And maybe this time you would stop chasing after the wind: fame, attention, sex, drugs, food, ______________ (fill in the blank), to infuse that space inside your heart, and instead turn to Christ. Are you tired of playing with mud pies? Are you ready to experience all the fullness and joy, “a holiday at sea,” that is yours for you in Christ?

I have tasted the things of this world and none compare to the fullness that comes with knowing, truly knowing Christ Jesus. You can climb the corporate ladder, have a really nice house, car, friends, clothes, etc and completely miss it. You could sail through this life and completely bypass the “holiday at sea” that God has in store for you. Or like Ruby, you can reach up with both arms completely confident in the One who is capable of pulling you out of the mud pie and into the fullness of His joy.

The Messiness of Motherhood

Motherhood is messy…quite literally these days. Our twins are becoming very independent and as they’ve been mastering the art of “how to use utensils,” our kitchen has turned into something that resembles a cafeteria after a food fight. But, oh goodness they look absolutely adorable covered in yogurt, peanut butter, or whatever they can get their hands on!

Prior to having children I knew that parenthood wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. But just like marriage, we can’t really understand just how messy and difficult it can be until we stumble through it ourselves. I’m not talking about a “mac n’ cheese all over the floor and dried in your hair” type of mess, although that may or may not be a weekly (daily) occurrence in our home. I’m talking about the mess that resides in our own hearts and lives, as we come to terms with our humanity and the reality that we are all a work in progress.

When we first brought our twins home I quickly caught myself making a mental checklist of all my parental and marital shortcomings . “You didn’t play enough with the babies” or “the house is a mess” or “you need to clean those bottles in the sink” or “When was the last time you even cleaned the house?” After weeks of racking my brain, I quickly realized how these exhausting and unrealistic expectations were stealing my joy and my ability to be present with my husband, family and friends. And I quickly discovered that I was missing the point. Instead of allowing the challenges point me to Christ and even recognize how God was growing me through them, I allowed the difficulties to drive me towards my shortcomings, hence the mental checklist.

As a parent, freedom came with the knowledge that my children weren’t tallying the number of folded clothes each day or the number of times I vacuumed the house. They would, however, remember if I was present. Eventually, after weeks of self-reflection, I stopped in the middle of my checklist, got on the floor, and played with my sweet little babies. Although I’m not immune to bringing out that checklist occasionally, I’m learning to flourish in the mess as I walk in grace.

The danger of unrealistic expectations is that they rarely remain in just one area of your life. I recognize this in my own; sometimes I feel like a major failure as a Christian. When I begin to examine my thoughts of poor performance and the emotions tied to them, I recognize my inherent tendency for Pharisaical parenting, living each day based upon what I did or what I didn’t. However, our salvation isn’t based upon our works or daily performance, a truth we so easily forget. The beautiful thing about God’s grace is that it frees us from the “never ending list” of things we have to do to earn His salvation, His love, His grace.

Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha? When Jesus was invited into their home, Martha was focused on all the preparations and domestic work that needed to be done around the house. And where was Mary? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, intently listening and soaking in all He had to say. When we function in a “works based mentality” it is like telling this Man that His death on the cross wasn’t sufficient. It’s like telling the man who bore all the sins of the world, “Excuse me, I get that what you did was very heroic, but I got this. I don’t need you.” By Martha making preparations her number one priority, she was essentially telling Jesus that what she was doing with her own hands was more important than the words coming out of His lips.

I have grown to see the purpose in my weaknesses, as they have become constant reminders of my need for grace. Instead of driving me to a mental check-list, I’m learning to let my shortcomings and failures remind me that I can’t do this on my own-I need Jesus.

When you start making a “why I’m a terrible Christian list” or “all the ways I’ve failed today as a mother list,” I pray that you will think of the work that has already been accomplished for you on the cross, through Jesus Christ. I pray that the story of Mary and Martha will come to your mind, and you will remember what Jesus said about the woman who chose to sit at His feet and just be present: “Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42).  I pray that when the messiness of life tempts you to start that exhausting mental checklist once again, you would be reminded of the work God is doing, the grace poured out for you, and the beauty He is creating in your life through the mess. Just like our life, the pottery making process is messy, but the finished product is exquisite. Trust that the Master Potter knows exactly what He is doing as He is molding you into something beautiful.

Our Journey to Adoption (the 5 minute version)

It was late in the evening and there I lay in the hospital bed. I would’ve never imagined that I would be having open-heart surgery the next day. But there I lay, waiting…thinking…praying. As my bare feet hit the cold floor, I walked over to the window seal and tried to exist in the silence. Although worry was occasionally shouting in my ear, for the most part, there was a calm peace surrounding me that evening. It was dark. All I could see were streetlights and the brightness extending through the windows of nearby buildings. But unlike earlier that week, it was quiet. There weren’t 15 doctors and nurses coming in my room to ask a dozen questions or run any more tests. It was just me and God.

Earlier that week, a pretty intense conversation was had with a specialist regarding how the outcome of the surgery could affect my fertility. What he didn’t know is that as a cancer survivor that is a speech I had heard my entire life. But hearing the news again was just as painful as hearing it the first time. When he left the door shut loudly, but I’m confident it didn’t disguise the sound my lungs made as I exhaled heavily and my tears drowned the bleach white pillow that was sitting on my lap. I drove my face forward into the darkness and closed my eyes. I wept, yelled and asked God, “why?”

As I sat there, a similar conversation that was had 7 years prior came flooding into my mind. I was sitting in a similar hospital bed, looking out a similar window, completely devastated over the news shared with me by my surgeon. As a 15 year old, I should’ve been worried about my upcoming geography and algebra tests, but instead I was forced to come to terms with the gravity of my fertility. In that moment, although overwhelmed by the news, that young high school girl started thinking about adoption. God was painting a masterpiece. And although I didn’t quite understand the movements of His brushstrokes, I can see how He was preparing my heart for something more beautiful than my mind could comprehend. Shortly after my tears hit the pillow, an overwhelming peace whispered through my entire body and it was as if God was displaying a video reel of His faithfulness and grace in my life. I knew that regardless of the outcome my heavenly Father was with me and He was my hope and source of strength.

10 months after a successful open-heart surgery I met my husband in a corner booth at Panera on a blind date. We were married in an old church in his hometown about a year and half later and moved to Louisville where he attended seminary. Adoption frequently entered our conversations during our engagement and as we began talking about wanting to grow our little family. A few years after we were married, a positive pregnancy test took us by complete surprise! But tragedy seemed to strike as quickly as the news had come in. Only a few weeks after receiving the news that I was pregnant, I miscarried. Even in our pain, we could feel His presence. It was difficult to trust God in the darkness. It still is sometimes. But, even then, we trusted He had a plan. He had not brought us this far to leave us on our own.

Through the cancer, infertility and miscarriage, adoption continued coming up in conversations with my husband and I. Then, we started praying about when the Lord would have us begin the adoption process. God stepped in and provided clarity and confirmation through a variety of circumstances and conversations. When we made the decision to move forward with growing our family through adoption we were extremely excited! As we began researching our options we realized there was so much about the process that we were completely clueless about! After speaking with a few friends, we chose to work with Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC). I tell everyone that working with CAC was by far the easiest and best decision we made in our adoption journey! We signed on with our consultant in March and brought home our twins that summer. We remain forever grateful to the twin’s birth mama for choosing us to be their parents and for the role that CAC played in our journey.

As I was snuggling Ruby to sleep the other night, she fell asleep with her hand on my chest. Her sweet little hand rested on my scar. It’s amazing to have daily reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness to me-to us. Thinking back to the journey that led us to adoption and now rocking our two little miracles to bed every night; my heart finds assurance in knowing that God used each and every circumstance to lead us to where we are today.

For those of you in the trenches: do not lose hope. Your Father is very present and near. He is writing your story. Your tears are not wasted. Trust that the Creator who crafted the entire world into existence with only His words, is creating something beautiful in you even when you can’t quite follow his brush strokes. One day you will better understand and be able to look back and see what I see when I look down at my babies, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***