6.05.2015

burn the ships

When we got back from Tulsa in April, we felt so battered and bruised. It had been SUCH a ride. We don't regret for one second the "yes" that allowed us to spend time and love on an amazing couple and their soon-to-be-born baby, but this was just not how we saw our adoptions going. 

Three matches. Three failures.

I was telling my sister today that sometimes I feel like God hung us out to dry in all these situations. I'm not angry at him about it, I just sometimes want to give him the side-eye and say, "Seriously?!" We would have loved on people anyway, we would have served anyway, why did you call us to ADOPT? To throw wide the doors of our home and our hearts, to expose ourselves to invasive scrutiny from social workers and strangers, to give lavishly of our time, energy, and emotions. Seriously, God, you needed ALL of this from me?

And the answer that comes to me is always a simple one. Yes, he did. And, in fact, he required it all of himself first - that and so much more.

 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (Philippians 2:6-8, from the Message)

I so desperately want to cling to the advantages of my white, middle-class, first-world, American life. I so desperately want to shout, "This is wrong! I have been mistreated!" My selfish, human heart wants all the advantages and all the "easy" to come my way. It's not that I don't expect trials, I just seem to expect God to fix them like some fairy godmother in the sky. And at the same time while I'm thinking I want all of that, I know (that I know, that I know, that I know) that a life lived without struggle, without risk, without obedience and humbling of myself would be completely worthless. Avoiding pain and problems is not what brings contentment and peace.

And that brings me to our news - we are headed back into the fray. Today when I went out to get the mail and found our brand new home study waiting for me, I knew it was time to share this publicly with you all. We have been so supported and carried throughout everything we've faced and I can never say enough how blessed and humbled we are by your constant prayers and encouragement. 

A few weeks after we returned from Tulsa, we were praying about what our next steps would be. Our feelings were so different than when we came home in January. For the first time we felt released, as though our time in Tulsa might be done for now, but we weren't sure where God was taking us next. Years ago, before we ever decided to pursue domestic infant adoption, I ran across an adoptive mom's blog. She and her husband had adopted three times using Christian Adoption Consultants and while I don't even remember their story, the agency stuck with me. As we were praying and seeking God for our new direction, I started running across posts on Facebook about CAC. It was one of those coincidence-not really coincidence things - a friend of a friend was actually an adoption consultant for CAC. I couldn't believe it! I got in touch with her and something resonated with me so strongly. 

But....

I resisted it. Choosing to leave our previous agency and work with CAC would be a monumental faith step for us. It all came down to money. Our previous agency had low, to the point of being almost unheard of, costs - around $10,000 with legal fees. The agencies CAC works with all had fairly standard adoption costs, $25,000-$35,000. The money seemed like a completely insurmountable obstacle. 

While I really enjoyed my conversation with Casey (the adoption consultant), I was sure this as not the direction that God would have us go. We are called to be good stewards of our finances, not to throw caution to the wind and volunteer to spend $30,000 we didn't have. 

But God.

I was sitting on my bed after my conversation with Casey, just mulling over it all and, honestly, can I be a little transparent here, feeling some pride in my ability to be level-headed and financially conservative (both excellent traits in general) when I heard, clear as day, "Burn the ships."

Come again, God?

Burn the ships. 

The phrase triggered a memory in me from my high school Spanish class. There is a story about Hernán Cortés, the conquistador who conquered much of Mexico for Spain, where upon setting out to face the Aztec king, he first burns and sinks all of the ships his men came on. 

Cortés and I are not very much alike. I would've kept my ships. I like my ships. They provide me security and a safe place to retreat from the expeditions I've been on.

Burn the ships.

But, God, don't you want me to be wise with my money, not reckless? Spending money I don't have is reckless. This could not possibly be what you have for us. 

And He answered this way:

This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,

who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 

 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:16-19, NIV)


The imagery of streams in a wasteland was so powerful for me. When our adoption failed in January, it felt like my entire life was a wasteland, as though nothing new would ever grow or flourish there. When another adoption fell through in April, it seemed like more confirmation that we were somehow flawed. Feelings that infertility first birthed in me of being dry and desolate, incapable of creating or sustaining life, were only made stronger with our adoptions failing. This is why it was so impactful when God brought this promise to my mind. 

He says forget the past, I am doing something new. I am turning the wasteland into a fertile place. 

That promise is so incomprehensible to me. How? How can this happen?

Burn the ships.

And I knew. I knew in the way that you know things about love and faith and miracles, that God had new plans for us. That they would require me to be obedient, to be humble. To experience a new level of transparency and community. To stop trying to control how our journey went and to once again take a leap of faith. 

We said yes. 

I emailed Casey and we got started. For the last three weeks, we've been working on home study updates and new profile books. We've been filling out mountains of paperwork to apply for loans and grants, while brainstorming fundraiser ideas and praying for provision. There has been a lot of grieving and processing. The last time we were doing all of this we were so excited, so sure everything would work out in our favor. This time is more somber. I feel less sure of myself and have no confidence that I will be able to make this happen by creating the perfect profile book or making sure we have all the right answers. But I have so much more confidence in God. I have confidence that he will make a way through our wilderness and bring streams to our wasteland.

I do not know what this is going to look like. I have no idea where we will be in the next few weeks and months. This baby could come next week or never. But I am peaceful and content in knowing that our "yes" is on the table and the rest of it is not up to me.


Please continue praying with us through these next steps. I will try to keep our adoption-specific facebook group updated regularly, so if you want to access to that and don't have it, send me a message. Again, thank you so much for all of the love and support. This beautiful community is one of the purest forms of redemption we have seen come out of all of our struggles. You are all so precious to us. Thank you.

4.26.2015

here we are again

Hopefully everyone here is also following our journey on Facebook because I have been super remiss about keeping the blog updated.

The short version is this: we went to Tulsa and our adoption failed yet again. I think it's completely normal to want to ask the question "Why?" when you hear that, but honestly the details are unimportant. There is no one to blame and no scapegoat of a reason why this situation didn't work out. These things happen in adoption. They happen all the time. And, unfortunately, they've happened to us far more than we ever expected.

We are still trying to process everything. It is completely baffling to me that we are in this situation again. The word "incomprehensible" comes to mind and I mean it in its purest, most unemotional form. I am not able to comprehend that this is the situation we are facing. I can't wrap my mind around it. 

We're breathing deeply, spending time together as a family of three, and throwing ourselves into some projects here at home. It's been a blessed distraction.

But we are also moving forward. We don't know how this next child is going to join our family, but we will not stop searching until we figure it out.

The word I was given while we waited to hear whether this latest adoption would work out or not was "relentless." If anything, every failure, every "no," has made me more determined to see our family grow. I have never fought so hard or so long for anything in my life. I have never believed in anything so deeply with so little evidence that it will ever come to fruition. There is a minivan parked in my driveway, my kitchen table easily seats eight, and the bedrooms in our house are completely set up for at least three more kids, and still we wait.

I sometimes think about how foolish we must seem to people on the outside looking in when they see us preparing for a family that doesn't yet exist and that we really have no means of bringing into existence. How insane we must appear to be returning over and over to a process that has done little more than leave us rejected, putting back together the pieces of our dreams. But then I think of David dancing half-naked before the ark of the Lord as it finally entered Jerusalem, after many many years of failure and even death, and his response to the condescension he received, "I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes" (2 Samuel 6:21b-22a).

This process, these rejections, have hurt my pride so deeply. I've questioned my worth, our path, whether or not we are even meant to be parents again, but ultimately I always come back to the same answer.  God has called us to adoption. God has called us to extravagant love and a level of transparency that I would never choose on my own. Going all in and committing to every situation that comes our way only to watch things fall apart is undignified - it is humiliating. But we will become even more undignified than this. In the face of our disappointments, we will celebrate the fact that we serve a God who redeems and wait expectantly for the day that He opens a door for us no man can shut.

I remain CONFIDENT of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord 
in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. 

(Psalm 27:13-14, emphasis mine)


3.01.2015

matched

Miracles happen, sometimes when you least expect them. We are so excited to announce that we are matched with a great couple who are expecting a precious baby boy due to arrive in April!

We are waiting, full of hope, for this little one to come fill our home with laughter (and crying, let's be honest) and teach us again how the heart can grow and grow to encompass more love than we thought possible. We love this baby's family already and admire them so much for the serious and intentional decision they are making, and the sweet way they have invited us to share this time before baby is born. We are excited to have them in our lives as we all journey together, united in our commitment to do what is best for this baby boy.

With baby's due date in April, we are just a few short weeks from this next adventure and because this adoption has come so soon after our failed adoption, we will pay our last bill from January this week and start paying our new bills next week. While it would be easy to feel overwhelmed, we know God has provision!  Joe has been blessed with extra flights this month, and we have been saving all we can.  Faith and trust have been our guiding themes and in the end, our story will be beautiful. The last few months have been a roller coaster and we are back on the ascent. Keep your arms and legs inside the car, this is going to be a crazy ride. 




On a different note, we have had so many people with us on this journey and we want to recognize all of you with a special piece of art in baby's nursery. This poster (^right up there^) is hanging above the crib and we hope to see it covered in the names of family and friends who have been walking this redemption road with us. This little one is so, so cherished and loved and we want a piece of art that shows that. If you have been praying for us, hoping for the best for our family, or sending us your good wishes and thoughts, let me know! Post a comment here or on Facebook and I'll get your name up there. 

My mom has also graciously organized an online fundraiser through YouCaring to help us offset some of our adoption costs. If you are interested in participating, follow this link and it will give you all the details: http://www.youcaring.org/gecseyfamilyadoption

Thank you all for your love and support, especially in these last few weeks! Every kind word, every prayer, every time you shared our pain or expressed your hopes for our future has kept us moving forward and fighting for our family to grow. We feel humbled and so immensely blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful community!

2.15.2015

say something

I'm finding myself in a place where I just keep waiting to speak. Waiting for better days, for some sort of inspired, divine understanding of our journey, but so far all that waiting has done is leave me sitting in silence. And I recognize this place because I sat here for years waiting for our infertility journey to have a happy ending and I got absolutely nothing out of it. One of the most freeing things I ever did was choosing to start writing about our struggles. Now I'm here again with another pain that's too big for me to wrap my brain around and while my instinct would be to ignore what I can't fully process, it feels inauthentic to write anything else until this is out there.

One month ago today, we were honored to be chosen to be the parents of a sweet baby boy. We threw clothes into suitcases and raced through airports in order to be there for his birth and then we had five beautiful days of loving him and watching over him. Five perfect days of 3am feedings and "Sweet Jesus, please let this child sleep" and rocking and cuddling. Five amazing days of trying to capture pictures of those fleeting sleep-smiles and wearing our sweet boy all around the house just so we could be close. Five days of loving deeply.

Then with one phone call those five days were over and I lived through five of the most excruciating hours of my life. I will never forget how white my knuckles were while I carried his carseat from the parking lot to the building where his mother was waiting for us. I distinctly remember wondering how in the world I was going to make it the next few yards to the door and being surprised that my feet just kept going, one in front of the other. And then he was gone and the family we had hoped would be forever was over.

Now, a month later, I still have moments where I wake up and wonder how I'll make it the next few yards and somehow one foot keeps getting placed in front of the other.  I told J the other day that I feel maimed, like someone amputated a part of me and I'm having to relearn how to do everything around the injury. Grief is a beast, but he and I are coming to terms. Yet again I'm learning the human capacity to feel so many seemingly disparate emotions at the same time--joy and pain, hope and despair, anticipation and fear--there is so much stretching going on.

I woke up the morning after those five days and cried while I listened to Ulysses by Josh Garrels. The whole song is beautiful, but these lyrics always stick with me: tie me to the mast of this old ship and point me home. That's the point we are at in this adoption journey. There are times when I can't imagine surviving another loss like this one, where the fear of all the grief and pain we could be inviting into our lives is paralyzing. But we believe that we have made the right choice, that there are children who will become a part of our family, that there is a birth family who we can pour into and love and commit to for life. So, tie me to the mast of this old ship and point me home, I don't want my fear to keep me from another chance to love extravagantly and to do it well.


Ulysses
http://joshgarrels.bandcamp.com/track/ulysses


I'm holding on to the hope that one day this could be made right.
I’ve been shipwrecked, and left for dead, and I have seen the darkest sights.
Everyone I’ve loved seems like a stranger in the night
But Oh my heart still burns, tells me to return, and search the fading light.

 

I’m sailing home to you I wont be long
By the light of moon I will press on 

Until, I find, my love
 

Trouble has beset my ways, and wicked winds have blown
Sirens call my name, they say they’ll ease my pain, then break me on the stones
But true love is the burden that will carry me back home
Carry me with the memories of the beauty I have known

 

I’m sailing home to you I wont be long
By the light of moon I will press on

 

So tie me to the mast of this old ship and point me home
Before I lose the one I love, before my chance is gone
I want to hold, her in, my arms