Sunday, May 7, 2017

grief is weird

grief is weird.

our 11th foster baby, "G", went home two weeks ago after being with us for three months. her family was ready and we were and continue to be happy for all of them. we weren't sad, because as much as we loved having her with us, she belongs with her parents so there have been no tears over her leaving. she left our home as seamlessly as she entered, and for that i am truly grateful.

part of me started to think that i was getting used to this "love them with an open hand" thing that we are supposed to do.

but grief is weird.

because in the void of mourning sweet baby G's reunion, the weight of the loss and tragedy we've somehow learned to carry became overwhelming.

because as happy as we are for G, the knowledge that it doesn't always work out as well is even more apparent.

i mourn for the families that are broken and for the myriad of reasons that brought them to the point of having their children removed from their care. i imagine myself in their shoes, being told that i could not be trusted to provide a safe environment for this person whom i so desperately love, even if i could not show it.

i mourn for the sweet babies we have loved and the mamas we have encouraged and supported and rejoiced with, only to see their lives collapse again and again.

i mourn for the futures of babies who were born into the world already addicted to drugs, whose brains were forever altered before they even took their first breath, and for those who will face lifelong struggles from alcohol exposure.

i mourn for the children who cannot possibly understand what is happening in their lives.

i mourn for our own family who has had to say goodbye again and again and again to babies and children who had become our sons and daughters. 
we attempt to lay selfishness aside even as we send these beloved children to an uncertain future, and are filled with anger and despair when these precious babies are once again abused and neglected.

i mourn for a system so overwhelmed and so broken that when decisions are made, what is truly best and safest for the child is an afterthought.

i have spent over a week trying, mostly unsuccessfully, not to cry. 

when a song plays at church about jesus bringing hope to the hopeless and light to the darkness and i want to believe it so badly.

when I think about the birth parents who visit their children and bring bags overflowing with toys and candy because they desperately want to show that they are sorry and love them and don't know any other way.

when i am at my child's school and see a teacher's impatience and cruelty make another child cry, and all i can think is, don't you understand what a privilege it is to get to be a part of his life?! don't you see that he is a person worthy of respect and love?

when i receive a call from a birth parent of one of our former babies and my mind goes through a million possible scenarios before finding out it was an accidental call.

when my despair bleeds into my attitude and i just want to hide but my own children need attention and water and for me to settle arguments and to know that i am still here.

when a friend tells me that what we do must be Jesus because it's all so impossible. and it is. 

grief is weird.

because i am happy for G, but i will let the tears continue to fall.

Friday, September 16, 2016

all the time

up at 4am and I can't sleep
listening to the clicks and beeps of hospital machines and praying for a miracle for sweet baby girl
because I know our God is a God who moves mountains
but I also know that sometimes He doesn't 
and I want to trust that no matter the outcome, His plans are greater than my plans, and His ways are higher than my ways
because two days ago I took a picture of her tiny hand in mine and marveled at the perfection of her little body
because God is good, all the time

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"So, You Wanna Go Out?"

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of knowing Michael and I too long, I thought I'd share a little bit of our story (who doesn't love a love story, right?!)

It started waaaaaaaay back in 1997, with two 8th graders and a question:
"so, you wanna go out?"
which was followed up by a decisive:
and the deal was sealed with a high five (for which we would be ruthlessly teased for all the days of our lives)

6 months later was our first highschool dance (and our first kiss! I know you all wanted to know that)

Fast forward a few years to Senior Prom, and still going strong. You can't tell from this picture, but we were both members of the A/V club, so we were *pretty* popular and not at all huge nerds in highschool

Later that year we graduated together and headed off to OSU...

...and on our 5 year anniversary (spring of our freshman year), Michael proposed! Spoiler alert: I said yes

a year and a half later, we tied the knot

and two years after that we graduated from Ohio State, said goodbye to Ohio, and moved ourselves to North Carolina

Michael started working as and engineer, and after a year of grad school (me), several various jobs (me), and 4 months of teaching (also me...y'all, I was NOT cut out to be a highschool teacher!), we moved back to Ohio to be closer to family for when we had kids. Surprise! 9 months after moving back, sweet Maya Grace was born, and we would never sleep again. The end.

j/k, that's obviously not the end because we've had like a million more kids since then (though the not sleeping part is most definitely true)

so anyway, 2 years later, along came Charlotte Mae

and 2 years after that, Milo Frederick

then we thought, "hey, our family isn't already ridiculous with 3 kids under 4. We should totally adopt!" and so in 2013 (the kids were 1, 3, and 5 at this point) we officially went on the waiting list to adopt a child from Ethiopia

the story of that ongoing adventure is long and probably boring for anyone except us, so suffice it to say it was taking a lot longer than we expected, so 2 years into the adoption journey, we became licensed foster parents

we have said "hello!" and "goodbye" 9 times since then, and watched our three amazing children learn hard lessons about love and loss while trying to figure it out ourselves

this last year has been one of the most challenging of our marriage, with the demands of two medically needy and emotionally taxing toddlers that at times made us question how we had ever thought we could handle this. For my birthday a month ago, Michael gave me a card that said, "we'll get through this together"

and we have

and we will

so today we celebrate 13 years of marriage (and close to 20 years since that fateful day in middle school)

looking back, I cannot imagine having spent my life with anyone else. Looking forward, I know that the best is yet to come