How I want to explain PRIDE to my children

As I think about the world that I hope my children will live in, I realize that it is not the world that currently exists. I feel naïve, but I would love my children to live in a world of peace and love, a non violent world with acceptance. Not to say that everyone has to believe in the same things, live the same way, or never experience conflict but that there would be a level of respect that even through our differences there is peace.

I have a distinct memory of coming home from my first day of fourth grade at my new Lutheran school and telling my mom that all of the kids in my class said that Mr. Kevin (the music teacher) was gay. This thrust my mom into having a conversation that she may not have been ready for, however with absolute simplicity she told me what it meant and then stated, “God makes some people gay and some people not gay.”  And that was that. No further explanation needed. Imagine my surprise as I grew up and learned that not everyone believed this, and that some people hated and killed others just because of the way God created them and yet others even used God as a defense for their hatred and violent acts.  However, no matter what people have said, the violence that I have witnessed or Bible verses that are quoted, I hear my mom, on that hot August day in 1985 in our kitchen saying “God makes some people gay and some people not gay.”  For the rest of my childhood and today I believe these to be words of wisdom, love and truth.

23 years after having that conversation with my mom,  I fell in love and became part of the LGBT community, my girlfriend, who is my husband now, is Transgender.  Going from being an accepting and loving LGBT ally and becoming part of this world was very different, but beautiful experience. June 2008 was my first PRIDE month and first PRIDE parade. Being a part of such a huge event in Chicago is powerful, seeing so many other couples that are like you makes you feel like you fit in, like you are normal, no questions, no stares, everyone there is celebrating who they are, who they were made to be.

As I look back on that PRIDE event with special memories, it also makes me sad and it makes me ask, “When will it end, when will we no longer NEED PRIDE month and parades?”  The need is still present because we, LGBT community are still not accepted, we are still seen as abnormal, we are still disowned by family and friends, we are still stared at, we are still judged, we are still seen as lower class, we are still hated, we are still attacked, we are still killed. And even for those who are accepted and loved the fear of coming out and sharing who you are with your family. friends, co- workers and church can be paralyzing, a fear that you have to experience to understand.

PRIDE will end once the LGBT community is accepted, not tolerated, but 100% accepted, when people don’t have to hide who they are, who they love or how they live. PRIDE will end when we don’t live in fear of being attacked by family, friends, co-workers, disowned by the church or receive sup par medical care. PRIDE will end when people look at each other and even through differences they love, accept and respect each other. PRIDE will end when we don’t need to gather together to feel normal or safe. When we don’t need to “come out” when we can just live, be accepted and loved. PRIDE will end when the fight for equal rights is over. PRIDE will end, not because we are no longer proud, but because we don’t HAVE to be proud of who we have been created to be.

I would love to have to explain to my children that June was once dedicated to the LGBT community and that PRIDE events were held all over the world in celebration, and to have my children think it is ridiculous that this ever needed to exist.  I would love for my children to know the history of the LGBT fight, as just that, a part of American history, instead of current events.

It may not happen in my life or even my children’s lifetime, until it does, HAPPY PRIDE!

Bless our home and all who enter

A few years ago a friend gave me a magnet that says “Bless our home and all who enter”, not only did I love the saying, but the colors matched my front door and it has been on display since the day I received it. Over the years, it has faded and even feel a few times but the words were still clearly visible, “Bless our home and all who enter.”

It really is a nice thought, of course I want my home to be blessed by the Lord. The people who enter are our friends and family, of course I want them to also be blessed.

After years of seeing these words everyday when I entered my home, I was challenged, did I really believe this, did I really want ALL who entered my home to be blessed?

On May 11th, 2016 I received an urgent text from my neighbor informing me that our home had been broken into.  When we returned home we were greeted by many police officers, K9 unit, investigators taking fingerprints and a sense of fear that we have never felt.

According to our watchful neighbor that witnessed the break in, a young man entered our home through a window, was inside for a few moments and then left through the same window. Nothing was taken, it didn’t even look like anything was touched. Without our neighbor as a witness, we would not have even known that this happened.

I was scared, hurt and angry. I thought of the magnet on the front door, “Bless our home and ALL who enter.” Does that include the uninvited?  I was surprised by my response, it does, it does include the young man who came into our home with ill intentions.

The days that followed I spent time in prayer for this young man, not that he would be brought to justice or that he would turn himself in, but that he would encounter the Lord, that he would be brought to a place to make better life decisions and that he would be blessed.

Lord, you know this young man, you know where he is and what he needs. I pray that you bless him and fulfill his life and heart, I pray that he encounters you in those that he meets and that whatever hurts he has that has lead him to making these current decisions, you heal. Amen.

“Bless our home and ALL who enter.”

I am giving up on my dream

I have plenty of dreams and goals that I am constantly working towards. I dream of the day that I will become a mom. Financially my goal is to be debt free. I dream of remodeling my kitchen. Professionally my goal is to be able to speak and encourage others to find their JOY in their journey.  Some of these goals and dreams seem to BIG, almost impossible, but when I need encouragement I am reminded of Philippians 4:13 “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT).  When I start to worry that a birth mom will never pick us, or when our debt seems to big, when my kitchen seems to small, when my goal seems impossible, I relay on this verse.

Except for my one dream, my one hope, my one goal, that I finally had to let go of….having all of my laundry clean, folded and put away. This has been a dream that I have been chasing, one load after another, trying to complete the laundry before another load would appear, but I was never fast enough and before I could wash, dry, fold and put a way, there would be another load waiting for it’s turn. I so desperately wanted to obtain this goal so that when other women and friends complained about the ever ending chore of laundry, I could throw my fist in the air, declare victory over my laundry, but also over them, securing my position as the “better” wife, the “better” home maker and clearly the one who would someday be a “better” mom.

Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

Although taking care of my house and completing daily and weekly chores is important, it cannot be the measure of my worthiness.  But even more ridiculous is that I felt the need to be “better” then the other women in my life.  I am surrounded by beautiful friends, women who constantly encourage me, push me and want me to reach my potential. Women who have their own hopes, dreams, goals and struggles. Women, who I want to encourage, push and see them reach their full potential, women who are my sisters in Christ. Women who have their own piles of laundry.

Today, I have made the conscious decision to be FREE, be FREE of the unattainable, unimportant, dream of being the Queen of Laundry!

What do you need to become free from? What unimportant goal are you chasing?  Are you comparing yourself to those you should be encouraging?

By faith, I am a mom

May 8th 2016 is my second Mother’s Day, how many children do I have, none and I am not pregnant, but I am a mom, by faith.  By faith, I believe, that God is creating the perfect child for us and in His perfect timing. This is a feeling of contentment, confidently waiting because of my faith in God.

My husband Chris and I have now been on our adoption journey for almost two years, we have survived paperwork, interviews, reference checks, fingerprints and even a few panic attacks.  The day our on line profile went live with our agency I thought I would be a nervous wreck, constantly checking emails, waiting for a phone call from our case worker, but surprisingly I was and continue to be joyfully waiting on His timing.
Like so many other women I have always desired to have children, however unlike many other women, the harsh reality of infertility came at a very young age for me, 13. At 13 I was told I would never have children, the Doctor just stating it, very matter a fact, like I wasn’t even in the room.  This news shattered what I assumed would be my future, of getting married and having children. I became bitter and angry and yet there was always a little dash of hope that God would somehow bless me with a child through adoption.
Through years of anger I clung to this shred of hope, through a divorce, depression, anxiety, health issues, credit card debt, my own doubts that I wasn’t good enough, there was still hope of a child. The hope would waiver and at times would even almost disappear, but it would always return, like a whisper to my heart and deep within I knew that it was God working all of my pain together for something so good and so great that it was hard to even believe that it would be possible.
Even as we began our adoption journey I had my doubts, my fears, but I had my God and His quite whispers telling me to press forward, to believe, to have faith and to celebrate each task on the adoption check list that we completed.
And here we are almost two years into this journey, celebrating my second Mother’s Day, still childless but not hopeless, because by faith, I am a mom.

 

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

Find Joy In The Journey

Shortly after Chris and I decided to start the adoption journey, I found a necklace that said “Find Joy In The Journey”.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it and that it would be my mantra for our adoption.

The adoption process is filled with grief, loss, sadness, paperwork, interviews, questions, paperwork, classes, expenses, paperwork, stress, uncertainty….and yes, more paperwork!  For the adoptive parents there is a since of grief and loss of not having a biological child and for the adoptive mom a sadness that she will never feel a life grow inside of her. For the birth mom the guilt that she is not able to care for a child that she carried for nine months and a since of loss that only another birth mom could ever understand. For both the adoptive parents and the birth mom there is paperwork, classes, counseling, questions, stress, uncertainty and paperwork.

I have read so many articles and adoption stories that seem to focus on the sadness or negative aspects of adoption, and not to diminish these feelings or experiences because they are part of the adoption process, I am going to FIND JOY IN THE JOURNEY! I am and will continue to  focus on the JOY!  The JOY of  knowing that each day we are one day closer to being parents, each piece of paper that we sign, initial, have notarized, photo copy, each class we attend, each dollar that we put into the savings account, it is one step closer to becoming mom and dad! It is one task off the “adoption to do list” but more importantly it is one step closer to meeting the child that was always meant to be ours, that was created especially for us!  It is one step closer to meeting the most important woman in our lives, the birth mom, that will entrust us with a baby that she lovingly carried for nine months, to give birth to and to place in our arms to love and parent.

Tonight was a huge step forward in our process, we turned in our paperwork! It took two and a half months to complete, it included copies of our birth certificates, marriage license, tax documents, application, family history, pay check stubs, pet records, doctor release forms and the list goes on and on. At times it felt like it would never be completed, it was over whelming and days went by when I couldn’t even open that folder to work on it. It is the adoptive mom’s version of morning sickness.

While my friends post pictures on Face Book of their huge pregnant bellies, I posted a picture of me with our completed paperwork!  Just because our journey to parenthood is through adoption it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate each step of the process, have fun and enjoy each day in our journey.

So many times we focus on what is different about our own journey compared to someone else’s and the  grief, loss, sadness, questions, stress, uncertainty instead of focusing on our own JOY.

Find JOY in YOUR journey!

Dear Birth Mom

Dear Birth Mom,

Hi, I know we don’t know each other, you may not even be pregnant yet, but I think about you and the baby you are or will be carrying every day.  You will soon change my life forever, you will perform a miracle, you will carry a baby for nine months and then lovingly decide to place that baby in my arms and make me a mom.

I wish I could know everything about you, what you like, your dislikes, your passions, your talents.  Even though we haven’t met each other yet I already know some things about you, I know that you are beautiful. I know that you are going to make the hardest decision that any human being could ever make. I know that you are the birth mom to my baby.

I know that my joy will bring you great sadness, and a loss that I will never know.

Not only do I want to know everything about you, but there is so much I want to tell you, to somehow ease your loss, even though I know no words could ever heal the wound of placing your baby in someone else’s arms.

I want you to know that I already love you and the baby that will link us together forever.  I want to tell our baby about you. I want to have pictures of you, I want our baby to know you. I worry about you, I pray for you, I have hope for you.  I don’t think I am better then you. I am excited to meet you. I am nervous to meet you. Even though the adoption agency told us not to buy anything yet, I already have bedding and a theme for the baby’s room, owls, I love owls. We have a baby album, books, clothes and a bassinet. We want one of those baby wraps to snuggle the baby close to us. Our friends are excited. Our families are happy. My church is supportive. I wonder if you know the love of Jesus.  I wonder if you think it is odd that I am a Christian and my husband is not. I know that the moment I see you I will want to hug you. I am not perfect. Our house is tiny. Our carpet needs to be replaced, our kitchen faucet leaks and my driver’s license is expired. I worry. I am silly. I believe in unicorns. I love to dance. I love to sing (even though I cannot carry an tune and I never know the words). I can’t wait to watch Sesame Street. And read books. And play in the park. And go swimming. And make arts and crafts. I cannot wait to be a mom.

It all seems so small and trivial compared to what you must be thinking or feeling or wondering about.  If I could take away all of your pain and loss I would, I am so sorry my joy will cause you sadness, you are beautiful,  I love you, you are the birth mom to my baby.

OMG, My Driver’s License is EXPIRED!

Years ago I read an article about a family that was adopting; the perspective adoptive mom talked about the day the home study worker came to their home. In the article she talked about how they nervously watched the home study worker get out of her car and approach their home, the adoptive mom thought to herself “If only our grass was greener.”  She wasn’t using this as some type of analogy or metaphorically, she was actually talking about their front lawn!

I think that there are more similarities between adoptive families and biological families then most people recognize, parents, adoptive or biological, want to do the very best that they can, provide, love, teach and raise little kiddos into the best adults that they can be.

However, biological families do not need to go through a screening process, fingerprints, interviews, paperwork, home visits, they don’t have to prove to an agency or birth mom that they are “good enough” to be chosen, they don’t have to worry if their grass is green enough or if the dogs are going to be barking to loud the day the home study worker comes to their home.

In the past when I would think about the adoption process I would worry so much about the interview, references….feeling judged, that I eventually just gave up on the idea.

However since Chris and I have decided to start our adoption plan it has been completely different then what I expected. Chris and I have a confidence, not cocky or arrogant, just a confidence and peace that we will be selected by the right birth mom at the right time, for the right child, our child.

That is until January 12, 2015, the day of our interview. I was getting ready, looking at myself in the mirror in the bathroom and feeling excited not nervous, I was reviewing what we were supposed to bring, just one thing, our driver’s license’s.  And then I remembered….my license is expired, it has been expired for months, 7 months to be exact  And that is when I started to have my “if only our grass was greener” moment. OMG, how are they going to trust me with a child, I can’t even renew my driver’s license! This is it, we are going to get there, they are going to ask to see my license and I can just imagine the case worker’s face looking at the license, looking back at me with an eyebrow raised, looking back down at the license, shaking her head, sending us home and telling us not to come back until I had a valid license.  There wasn’t much I could do now, I didn’t have time to renew my license on the way there, so there I went, defeated to our interview, ready to be questioned and judged with my expired driver’s license in my wallet.

There we were in a tiny little room, the case worker seemed nice, asked us questions, filled out paperwork and then there it was, the paper that required my driver’s license number, I slowly pulled out my license, completed the form and then…..that was it. The case worker never asked to see my license or make a copy, there was no judgment of the expired date, no eyebrow raised, no shaking of the head, no sending us away.

Two hours later we left, one more step completed on our journey to becoming parents, one more thing off the checklist, one more thing to celebrate!

“We’re Going To Adopt”

“We’re going to adopt someday.”  I said those words so many times in my twenties that the words lost meaning, it was just a way to answer the never ending question “When are you going to have kids?”

The truth is that we thought that we would adopt some day, but we never got past the talking about it part or really just the words “We’re going to adopt someday”.  Our plan was to start the process after 3 years of marriage, three years came and went and then year 4, year 5, year 6 and finally year 7.

During these 7 years of marriage I remember repeatedly saying “I don’t want to adopt kids with you because I don’t want you to treat our kids like you treat me.”  I would also say “I don’t want you to talk to me that way in front of our kids.”

And then finally I realized that I was not happy, I had never been happy.  The truth was that I fell in love with someone else, I didn’t fall out of love with my ex husband, I just realized that I never loved him in the first place.

It is true that I walked out of our 7 year marriage (total of 13 years together) and moved in to Christopher’s apartment the same day. Completely crazy and very uncharacteristic of me. I had spent  four months in turmoil realizing that I had fallen in love with someone else and wanting to save my marriage because divorce just seemed to scary to face.  I didn’t leave my ex husband for Christopher, I left for myself, I left the day that I realized I would be happier being alone then with either of them.

However, this is a love story and Christopher and I have been living happily ever after since that day in February 2008 and we were married exactly 5 years later on February 21, 2013.

In the beginning of our relationship we started to repeat those exact same words “We’re going to adopt someday.” But early in our relationship Chris dropped a bombshell, actually said something that I always thought would be the ultimate deal breaker, “I don’t think I want kids, I really like life the way it is.”

I was devastated….or was I?  I really started to think about what Chris said and I realized I liked our life too! I was happy, for the first time….EVER!  Why change something that was great!  I started to think that maybe I didn’t want kids, maybe I just said the words because that was the option that was presented to me when people were trying to consul me when I was younger and dealing with my infertility.  Adoption would be hard, expensive, emotional.  So the decision to not go through the difficult path of adoption, I easily accepted.

We decided that we would be that awesome aunt and uncle that would spoil their nieces and nephews, travel and be DINKS (dual income, no kids).  During our 7 years together Chris and I welcomed three nephews and one niece. But there was something missing. I thought it was just the fact that we weren’t living up to that DINK standard that we had set for ourselves.

Both of our families are out of state so all of our vacation time and travel money consists of driving between PA and TN.  It is a choice that we make, family is important to both of us and we love our trips home, but without kids shouldn’t we be jetting off on a tropical cruise?

I would become especially jealous when I would see people with kids going on vacations. I would think isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing, why do they get both, why do they get to have kids and exotic vacations? It just isn’t fair.  (Some how in my mind if you got to have kids, then your life couldn’t be “better” then mine, I know crazy and very judgmental of me, but true.)

At times we would discuss adopting, would it be possible to have both, a great life, travel and have kids? But there was something holding us back, something that would prevent us from moving forward, yet something that kept us from closing the door all together.

What was really stopping me from wanting to pursue an adoption plan was fear. Fear of the expense. Fear of the process. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not having family close by. Fear of being judged.

That fear has slowly faded away.  It started to fade away the day that I found my home church, Torch.  For the first time I found community. I found family. I found myself. I found God. I learned that I am good enough. I learned to surrender fears. I learned that with God all things are possible.

The expense of adoption is huge, approximately $20,000 to $30,000. The agency that Chris and I have selected to work with is a non profit agency, our expenses will include our home study, possible medical expenses, legal fees and operation costs of the agency.  Like many adoptive families we have taken out a personal loan, even with taking out a substantial loan we still do not have all of the funds needed.  In the past this would have stopped me from pursing this plan, but I have no fear, just like many adoptive families we have turned to fundraising.  Not only do we feel emotionally and spiritually supported by our friends and family, they are now financially supporting us as well.

We are not adopting, someday…we ARE adopting NOW.  Paperwork has been submitted, a loan has been approved, interview date is set, the journey has begun.