Saturday, July 20, 2013

Addison Gafford, Big Sister Extraordinaire!

 Prior to Ethan's birth, Addison didn't know a whole lot of specifics as to what her future would potentially hold.  It's a real challenge to adequately prepare your preschooler for a new sibling without possibly breaking their heart if and when the specifics don't end up happening when and how you'd told them.  So our preparation consisted of praying nightly for Jesus to give us a baby brother or a baby sister, for the baby to be healthy and strong, and for the baby's birth mother to take good care of the baby.  In between there were pretty generic conversations about what kind of things she could do to help "someday" when Jesus gives us a baby.  Even when we knew the gender of the baby (both times) we did our best to keep our talks gender neutral, just in case.

As soon as the adoption paperwork was all signed at the hospital, the first thing we did was step outside to call Addison who had been staying at Grandma and Grandpa Gafford's house.  She didn't really know where we were or why we weren't together and it didn't really concern her.  She loved to occasionally spend the night at their house without us so it wasn't all that out of the ordinary.  Our phone conversation, though much longer, went something like this:

Us:  Addison we have a surprise for you.
A:  What is it?
Us:  What have you been praying to Jesus for?
A:  A baby
Us:  Guess what!  Jesus gave us a baby brother!
A:  (Squeals loudly)  Is a baby brother a girl?
Us:  No a baby brother is a boy.
A:  (Squeals again)  I'm going to name him David!
Us:  Mommy and Daddy picked a different name.  His name is Ethan.
A: Ephan!  I love him.  Can I come home now and see my baby?
Us:  Well Mommy and Daddy are at the hospital getting baby Ethan because that's where he was born.  We need you to go shopping with Grandma and Grandpa to buy some clothes for Ethan and you can bring them home with you tomorrow.  Ok?
A:  Ok!  Can I get him a crown?
Us:  Crowns are for princesses.
A:  No,he can be a prince!
(etc. etc. etc.)

That is a phone call I don't think I will ever forget.  We're so thankful we had grandpa take a video of her end of the conversation.  Completely precious.

Grandma and Grandpa brought Addison home the next day and she was able to meet Ethan in person for the first time.  It was love at first sight.  I find it rather funny that if we ask her to do something that is at all related to Ethan's things or needs she will do it immediately, no questions asked.  However, if it doesn't have to do with Ethan, that's another story entirely...

For days after coming home she would look at him and say "This is just what I always wanted.  We prayed for a long time for a baby."  She doesn't love sharing mom and dad's attention so much, but she sure loves the little boy she's sharing it with.

Monday, July 08, 2013

More Than We Could Ever Ask or Imagine

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV)

When Addison was born I was given what I thought to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness her birth. Never did I ever think that chance would come up again. But God is so good because not only did I witness Ethan's birth but David did as well. We've been blessed with two incredibly selfless birth mothers that have allowed us to be a part of such a significant moment in our children's lives. As if that wasn't enough, I was also invited to cut the umbilical cord and be the first to hold him. On top of that we were given a room at the hospital in which to stay and be caretakers for Ethan during the first 48 hours of his life. For a woman who can not conceive, carry, or deliver her own babies, I can't even begin to explain to you how much those opportunities meant to me.

But as thrilling as it was to see and hold our son for the first time I would be lying if I said it wasn't also accompanied by great sadness. Adoption is tricky that way. Our great gain is because of someone else's great loss. Someone else went through the discomfort of pregnancy, the excruciating pain of childbirth, and the unbelievable heartache of letting go in order for our dream to come true.

But I have to step aside and realize that making our dreams come true was not the reason our birth mothers chose adoption. It was to make their kids' dreams come true. It was to give them a life that they weren't able to give them at that time. That helps my sorrow turn into astounding respect for the two incredibly strong women in our lives that have made that selfless choice.  So I want to publicly thank and celebrate Addison and Ethan's birth mothers.  Thank you for trusting us to raise and love two such amazing children.  We're so happy to know you both and to have you as an extension of our family.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 05, 2013

Adoption Chronicles- Volume 2: Take Two

The last adoption fell through in the middle of December.  On one hand, that might seem like an awful time for it to happen, right before Christmas.  But in our case, I found the timing to be quite helpful.  Christmas proved to be a wonderful distraction and there's something about the fresh start of a new year to help you put events like that behind you.
We decided that we had done absolutely everything we could do to make an adoption happen and the rest was entirely up to God.  Our job now was to resume life as we knew it and put thoughts of adoption out of our minds as much as possible until God gave us something new to think about.  With God's help, this task was miraculously done a lot easier than we ever could have imagined.  David and I joked from time to time that some day we would get a call from our social worker about being chosen and we would look at each other and say, "Oh yeah, we're still doing that, aren't we?"
And eventually that call came.  And yes, that was sort of our reaction.  Then the nerves and worries hit.  Can we really go through this again after what we just experienced just a few months ago?  What if it happens again?  How will we ever survive?
We took a step of faith and accepted the meeting with that birth mother.  And once again, the meeting went really well and we felt very good about the connection made there.  And once again, we were officially matched with that birth mother and our profiles became inactive.  And once again we had about eight weeks to prepare, get excited, nurture a new relationship with the
expectant mother, and try to tame our eager hearts, knowing from experience that there
are always risks when it comes to adoption.
We did things a little differently this time.  I vowed that I wouldn't buy anything ahead of time for this baby.  I just couldn't stand the thought of having to make returns again.  Friends loaned us clothes (since we were preparing for a boy this time), and I just kept reminding myself that we had far less when we brought Addison home and she turned out just fine.  I did have a day of weakness and I ordered the crib set and a couple of items for the nursery.  But I did not take them out of the package in case God forbid, they would have to be returned.  I desperately wanted to paint his room and I had more than enough time to do so, but I didn't.  I didn't want to have to repaint it later if things didn't end up working out.  So this was the game we played for about 8 weeks.  Balancing the heart's desire to nest and get excited with the head's desire to be smart and build walls of protection up.
And before we knew it, those eight weeks were behind us and we got the call that it was time to go to the hospital for the delivery of the baby that was meant to be ours.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Interrupted Adoption

*This post was originally written about a month ago but never got published.  You'll notice this specifically in the last paragraph.  I tried to edit it in light of our recent events but felt that it lost something in the process and returned it to how it was originally written.
Hey, there's two words that will tie any adoptive parent's stomach into knots!  It's something we're warned is often a possibility, but hope usually gets the best of us, and we choose to believe it couldn't happen to us.  The truth is that it is a real risk when entering into the adoption process that things will not go according to plan.  As confident as a birth mother may be in her adoption plan prior to delivery, once she hears those first cries and feels that soft delicate skin on her newborn baby things can change.

When that happens you drive home from the hospital with the empty car seat and the untouched diaper bag.  You make phone calls to the same people you'd been planning on calling already, only for an entirely different reason.  You quietly hide the evidence that you'd prepared to be living with an infant, and you close the door to the baby room.  You hope and pray that your nearly 3 year old doesn't notice that all the supplies you've been dragging out for the past 2 months have been put away again, and you thank the Lord you had the sense to not tell her more than you did.  You delete the pictures from your camera because you need no further reminders of the pain and disappointment you've just experienced.  You make merchandise returns to six different stores, grateful for the self-control that you had to not cut off the tags and wash things quite yet, but sick to your stomach every time a clerk asks why you're returning them.  You cry.  You get angry.  You get annoyed that it even happened.  You pray a lot.  And you muster up everything within you to return to life as you previously knew it and just move forward.

But life does go on.  You know that God has a child in mind for your family and it just wasn't that baby you met in the hospital.  You choose to trust that God had a purpose in connecting you to that birth mother even though it apparently wasn't adoption (and you accept not knowing what that plan was).  You pray for her.  You pray for that baby.  And you move forward.  In time God heals your wounded hearts, and the memory of that day no longer stings so badly.  Instead it somehow miraculously gives you hope, believing that God has an even greater plan for you to come.

And eventually, you become comfortable enough with this part of your story that you decide it's time to make yourself vulnerable and share it with others. 

Hi, I'm Melissa, and I experienced and interrupted adoption 6 months ago.

I share this story here not only so others can read it and hopefully be encouraged, but also for myself.

"But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.  They are constantly in my thoughts.  I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.  O God, your ways are holy.  Is there any god as mighty as you?  You are the God of great wonders!  You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations."  Psalm 77:11-14 (NLT)

Tomorrow, or next week, or a year from now when I'm feeling discouraged or in the pit, I want to come back to this place and recall how God was faithful and brought us through this difficult time in our lives.  He used this experience to refine us; to make us better people more dependent on Him. Even as I write this post, we know that another interrupted adoption is still a very possible part of our future.  But I will not live in fear of it.  I will not let that possibility keep me from still pursuing adoption. I will recall how God brought us through it before and rest easy knowing that even if it happens again, my God will be there to walk us through it.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Adoption Chronicles- Volume 2: The Process

Technically we started the process for adoption #2 before we left Minnesota a year and a half ago.  But once we found out we would be moving, we pretty much hit the pause button before getting too far in the process.  After settling in to our new home and life here in Indiana, we got back on board and worked our way through our home study over the course of last summer.  Our home study was finished by the beginning of September and once we completed and submitted our profile books we were officially "on the market" and available to be chosen by potential birth mothers.

Those of you who walked Addison's adoption journey with us will remember how quick and "easy" it seemed.  We'd barely even made the decision to adopt and we'd already been connected with her birth parents.  We were matched pretty early in her pregnancy so the bulk of the wait was simply for her to finish "cooking".  Because of how smoothly that whole process went, we pretty much expected this second one to be the exact opposite.  We figured we'd have to wait for a long time before being matched.

We couldn't have been more surprised when we got the call within about 5 weeks that an expectant mother had chosen our profile and wanted to meet us.

Soon the time came for us to meet the birth parents.  The meeting went really well and it seemed to be a good match.  We were officially paired with that birthmother and our profiles became inactive.  By that point we had about 8 weeks until the baby was due.  Eight weeks to prepare, get excited, nurture a new relationship with the expectant mother, and try to tame our eager hearts, knowing that there are always risks when it comes to adoption.

Eventually those eight weeks passed by and the call came to head for the hospital for the delivery of a baby that was not meant to be ours.

The Adoption Chronicles- Volume 2!!!!

Remember 3 1/2 years ago when we adopted Addison?
Maybe we were naive back then or maybe we just had unbelievable faith because God gave us so many clear signs that it was going to happen, but we sure blabbed a lot about that adoption ahead of time, didn't we?  Everyone knew about it and was anticipating it right along with us.  Many of you were "in the waiting room" with us waiting for her arrival via Facebook and our blog.
This second round has been quite different.  You may (or may not) have known we were in the process again, but we really haven't shared much publicly about our journey.  Adoption is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing, but it can also be a bit of a roller coaster ride along the way.  Nothing is certain until it is officially certain.  Many times it's easier to endure the ride a little more privately.
We are thrilled to share with you that it is now officially certain that Addison has become a big sister.
Introducing Ethan Jay Gafford, born June 27 at 5:39 p.m. , weighing 8lbs 13oz, and 20.75 in. long.

We look forward to sharing more in the next few days about yet another beautiful adoption journey for the Gafford family.  God is so good to us.