Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Lord is in the Details

Well, it’s been a week – in a good way!  We are in this for real, as in – we have officially pre-applied for international adoption!

This has not been done without hesitance or fear or concerns.  I’ll save those for another post.  We’re taking a leap of faith here, and we’re cool with that.  I believe that God wants us to be parents, and that He desperately wants orphans to become part of Christian families.

Last weekend I joyfully began filling out the pre-application.  I hunted down 4x6 photos of us and of our home.  I dug out our last three years of tax returns and made copies of page one of each of them.  We read the lengthy “adoption services agreement” and went to the bank to get it signed and notarized.  Four non-relatives – each of whom knew we’d been unable to have biological children and were supportive of adoption – were contacted and asked if they were willing to be ‘non-relative personal references’ for us.  Lastly, we wrote a $300 check for the pre-application fee and mailed it off.

God is already giving us little things that assure us we have His blessing.  Number one – we completed this paperwork on Sept. 12.  It was 11 years to the day that my sweet cousins were scheduled to come home from Russia.  Wow, that was an emotional realization – but in the most wonderful way!  The second assurance we got was when I received an e-mail reply from our (well, soon-to-be ‘our’) social worker saying that she had no other homestudies in progress at this time, so we could get that done pretty quickly if we wanted to!  Oh Jesus! You are too good to us!

Finally, we’d been told to plan on getting three certified copies of our marriage certificate (and birth certificates) for the homestudy, and I need a fourth marriage certificate to renew my passport (it expires in February, and I’ve gotten married since, so proof of change in surname is required).  I didn’t want to wait 4-6 weeks for the copies to come before sending in passport renewal paperwork, but I also wasn’t thrilled about sending our only copy to the U.S. government and trusting them to not lose it.  This morning I was filling out the request for copies and went to dig out our existing copy to make sure everything matched.  Um, we have two copies!  I just squealed,  “We have two!”  I have no recollection of two, just one.  But this is wonderful, because now I feel perfectly fine sending one of those off with my passport renewal paperwork. 

Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thy Will Be Done

These are the words that I wished I could say and mean during our earlier days of our infertility.  They are, after all, words from the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus modeled for us after saying, “This is how you should pray.”  It’s what my pastors taught me to close our prayers with.  I was often told, “God’s will is best.”  And believed it.  But once tougher times in life came upon me, it was hard to get those words out, and it was even harder to mean them when I spoke them.

As mentioned in my earliest post, I have a psychology degree.  It was not my original major.  In fact, I often feel like I didn’t earn this degree because I only spent the last of my four college years as a psych major,  I was a nursing major for the first three years.  To make a long, sad, and painful story short, I burned out when a major depression arose in me, stemming from family problems and severe stress.  I was on meds, in therapy, etc. and simply did not have the presence of mind needed to ‘perform’ up to par in clinicals during that third year.  After two marginal passes, my options were to appeal or accept defeat.  I am still amazed at how peacefully and clearly I was able to understand all the signs from God that this season in my life was done, and walk away.

I did not make this decision without pain, and certainly spent several months grieving this loss.  I remember often wondering why God would lead me down that path in the first place, if only to fail.  My answer (or at least, what I think is the answer) came a few months after I withdrew from the nursing program. 

I still had a certified nursing assistant’s license and held a job at a hospital in the area.  One July night, I helped take care of a young man, just a few years older than I, who was being treated for a severe broken leg and broken arm.  He had gotten those injuries in a car crash, where he was driving drunk and the person he hit was killed.  When I stepped in to say I was done for the night, he was frantically flipping through Bible with tears in his eyes.  “I have to know that I can be forgiven,” he told me.  He noticed the gold cross necklace that I was wearing and asked, “Where should I read?” 

My heart broke for him.  “I would start with the Psalms,” I said, squeezing his hand.  “I will be back in the morning, and I will pray for you.”

The next morning, I was assigned to that same bank of rooms.  When I entered his, he handed me a piece of paper.   He had a soft smile and tears in his eyes, the look of someone too choked up to speak.

The paper read, “I felt God last night.  He forgives me and loves me.  I believe in Him.”  The young man choked out a, “Thank you,” as I reached for his hand again, and my own eyes filled with tears.  Oh, the power of God’s Word!  It is so easy to forget how strong it is, until we see it in action, bringing sinners to faith.

Several days after this, it dawned on me that had I not been a nursing major, I would not have had that CNA job, and I would never have been there for that young man being brought to faith.  There have, or course, been times since then when my sinful nature has asked, “Was it all really worth it for just one man to receive faith?”  

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7 ESV).   

So, yes.  Worth it ALL.

If God’s will was for me to endure my tough years in nursing school just to be available to witness to that young man, so be it.  It's hard to feel this way – but the Bible verse above clearly illustrates how precious and important it is to God for unbelievers to repent, and come to a knowledge of the truth. 

Thy Will Be Done.

And in the same way, the more I look into our future as (hopefully) parents by adoption, the more I see how God may have allowed us to suffer through infertility, in order to lead us to adopt a child who otherwise would have grown up as an orphan – or worse, a child that would have otherwise not been baptized or heard God’s Word.  And if that is how he works our lives to His glory, so be it. 

If that is how He intends to bring another soul to faith in Him, may it be so. 

If we are to be His instruments in this blessed manner – speak, O Lord, for your servants are listening.

As the familiar hymn goes, "What God ordains is always good."

May God’s will alone be done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why We’ve Chosen to Not Pursue Fertility Treatments

I get this question a lot – more often lately, as we are getting closer to beginning this adoption process.  It’s not a short or simple answer, so I thought I’d try to put my many thoughts on this topic into a blog post.  These are not in order of importance or any type of order.  They are all fairly equal factors.

1.  Cost-Effectiveness
The more we opened up to families similar to us that adopted after infertility, the more I hear something along the lines of, “I wish we would have stopped fertility treatments sooner”, or “I regret all the time and money we poured into medical testing that we could have put toward adoptions.”  There is no guarantee that a problem will be found. If something is found, chances are it’s something that is either a pricey fix, a lengthy and invasive fix, or something with a “solution” that we are uncomfortable with. Or all of the above.
We live on my husband’s small pastor's salary and pour what I earn (as an elementary school aide) into our adoption fund.  We cannot afford to pursue tests and treatments and move on to adoption if medical interventions do not work.  I feel like adoption has the better chance of becoming parents in the end.

2. We have issues with many common fertility treatments.
We will not do IVF or IUI. 
As far as 'simpler' treatments go, a lot of them don’t apply to us.  I know a common ‘first line’ fertility treatment is several months of Clomid (a medication that induces ovulation) but what’s the point of inducing ovulation if we know I ovulate?  Personally, “because it sometimes works” isn’t a good enough reason to force my body to do something that it already does perfectly fine on its own.  And for what it's worth, my primary doctor agrees with me.
I have also been advised that several months on the Pill sometimes works to stabilize hormones, and going off of it can temporarily give you higher levels more likely to allow you to conceive.  First off, we strongly object to the Pill, as it can be abortifacient (read more about that here).  Second, again, why throw my hormones off balance and back again if they are fine right now?

3. The most basic of fertility issues have already been ruled out.
To disclose a bit, I’ve always had very regular menstrual cycles.  I ovulate regularly.  My height and weight are healthy.  I work out and eat well.  I have had bloodwork done, and all my counts and hormone levels are where they should be.  My paps and pelvics are normal.  These factors rule out some of the more common causes of infertility, such as hormone imbalances, irregular cycles, anovulation, and PCOS.  

4. I love adoption!
I have three cousins who were adopted.  I was 12 and 16 when they came home, and I remember it well.  I remember the long waiting process, the tough decisions that my aunt and uncle had to make, and most of all, I remember that beautiful, joyous result of LOVE for everyone involved.
I could go on and on about this, but in short: I want to do that.  We need children, and there are thousands of children in the world that need parents.  I feel like this might be our call from God to do something about that.

5. Having biological kids is not a priority for us.
We realized at some point that parenting is the end goal, not pregnancy and birth.  We don’t care if our kids don’t look like us, an ‘unknown’ gene pool doesn’t scare me (at least, not too much), and having a child from infancy is not a priority to us.

I realize that not everyone will share these opinions, and that’s fine with me.  I don’t think that those who take different paths to resolve their infertility are wrong.  This is simply our way of thinking, and how we feel God has led us to build our family through adoption.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The most exciting thing that happened to me this summer...

At orientation for work several weeks ago, everyone was asked to stand up, introduce themselves, and tell what was the most exciting part of their summer.

I think I said, "The best part of my summer was our trip to visit with family.' Actually, the most exciting event was this incident:
(I decided against posting the 'immediately-after-stitches' photo where there's a fair amount of blood smeared around my hand.  You are welcome. :)

Here's how it happened:
We have a small kitchen with not very much cabinet space.  Because of this, I had to think out-of-the-box when I unpacked all our kitchen stuff into the cabinets.  Our toaster, combination food processor/blender, and parts are in a high upper cabinet above the sink.

About three weeks ago, I got home from a morning walk and decided to make some smoothies.  I reached up and grabbed the blender.  Unbeknownst to me, the blade attachment for the food processor was just sitting up there, and the blender cord caught those blades and pulled them out.  They fell and planted themselves between my fingers. It happened so quickly...just all of a sudden I have big streams of blood running down my arm from this gigantic scary HOLE in between my fingers.

Somehow, I was able to think coherently enough to grab a clean old towel and apply pressure first, and call my husband second.  He answered, and I came right out with, "Um, I need you to take me to the doctor right now.  I need stitches."  Thank God we live right next door to our church, where he works.  We loaded in the car, I called the clinic to let them know I was coming, while my husband drove more quickly than he usually does. ;)

I have LOVED our doctors and their clinic from my first day there last summer, but they impressed me even more that day.  They were able to get me in almost immediately and willing to take care of me right there, rather then sending me to an urgent care facility or the ER.  I had to soak my hand in betadine for awhile, then got the horrible numbing injection up two nerves in my hand (that was horrible -  sort of feeling, sort of not feeling him dig around inside my hand with a big needle for what felt like five minutes.  Ugh.  I shiver just thinking about it!).  After that had taken effect, they sewed me up with five stitches, gave me a tetanus booster, and sent me home.  My doctor said most stitches need to stay in for 7-10 days, but I absolutely needed 10 days because that cut was so deep.  I got it checked on day 11 because day 10 fell on a Sunday, and actually ended up needed to go 14 days because it hadn't closed enough.  It is looking good, just a little bit raw from skin that is still peeling.  The scar is not the noticeable unless you are looking for it.

I quickly realized that we had a lot to be thankful for with this incident.  We are very thankful that our little, local, rural clinic has awesome physicians that are willing and able to take 'urgent care' cases like this.  Because of that, we were able to avoid an ER bill.  I am grateful that this happened in my left hand and I am a righty.  My doctor noted that I was VERY lucky that blade didn't slice any nerves or ligaments.  If it had, I would need full-out hand surgery.  Finally, a bit superficially - I'm thankful that I didn't get any blood on the new skirt and top I was wearing.

And no, I don't need a better kitchen storage solution - I tossed that nasty blade attachment in the trash.  I've only ever used the grater attachment for the food processor anyways.


I apologize for the long gap in between postings.  School started two weeks ago, which means I am working 40 hours/week again.  Wahoo - not.  I am so content to be home full-time, and it's really a challenge for me to get up and dedicate myself to work each weekday.  I have to continually remind myself that this is a means to an end, and that it will be worth it ALL when we reach that beautiful end.

Here is the latest on our adoption journey: We have made the decision to pursue an international adoption from South Korea and are planning to pre-apply in January.  (Yeah, I SO wish we could just start right now, but when we lined up where our adoption fund would be with our agency's projected timeline, there was a good chance we'd owe money we didn't have in a little over a year.  So we're waiting about four more months.)  It took one of us quite awhile to settle on that. In the past month we met with two other pastor's families who have adopted - one internationally from South Korea, the other, domestic infant.  That's what finally confirmed which route was the best fit for us.  I really wish we would have done that sooner.

I guess I should be excited that we're so close, but I'm kind of sad that we're just adding more months onto the years of waited we've already endured. Yeah, I know, I need to suck it up smile
I can't sleep right now, so I'm getting research done on how to get the certified copies of our birth/marriage certificates and how to renew my passport. That should make the homestudy go much more quickly once we begin.

This is not public information, but we are hoping/planning to make it so in our Christmas letter at the end of this year. I just don't know how to tell extended family, so a letter will have to do.