Sunday, April 29, 2012

You've been Blog-Jacked!

Ok, so I'm not sure if "Blog-Jacked" is the right word, or even a word at all, but to the audience of My Bell Jar, this is not Jess, but rather her loving husband Curtis. You know, the good looking one in the photos with Jess and Micah? It's easy to miss me, I understand. All that aside, I wanted to take this time to let everyone know what I'm attempting to do for my wife on her birthday (which is May 24th!) as she will be turning the age of 30!
Now, I must admit, I had an ethical dilemma about posting to her blog, mostly for the fear that she would change her password and I wouldn't be able to edit out information that I felt was too personal (like our mailing address, or my preferred sleeping attire). But, it's for a good cause, and for a pretty amazing woman.
If you have read at least one blog post on this site, you will most likely be familiar that we are adopting. So when I asked Jess what she wanted most for her birthday, she gave me this real pouty face and said "a baby." Come to find out, she wasn't really saying what I had interpreted. Apparently she just meant an adopted child. :-)
This is where you, Jess' closest friends, come into the picture. I have created a website that allows people to support our adoption and also wish your favorite blogger a "Happy 30th".
Thanks for reading, and I really hope she doesn't delete this post out of embarrassment! hehe

Follow the link below to find out more...
Jess' 30th Birthday/Adoption Fund Raiser

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

guest post: my husband on adoption


Last week we were asked to share about our adoption at church on Sunday morning. We spent part of the week and much of the weekend talking about what aspect of it Curtis was going to talk about. After some prayer and thinking Curtis (with the help of my editing eye) wrote the following. He then created an outline to use as he would share. However, at the last minute when we were called up to the front on Sunday, he decided to scrap his notes and just talk openly for a few minutes instead to our church family. I think it was the right decision, however, i couldn't pass up the chance to let Curtis share his heart with all of you as well. without further ado - i give to you my dear husband, on our adoption story:

God has been revealing to Jess and myself a very specific weakness in us as individuals and as a couple. From what I can perceive, this weakness has to do with how we trust God, and whether or not we believe his promises to be true.
A few years after getting married, we both felt we were “ready” to start a family. Over time we watched as friends easily got pregnant and even started getting pregnant for a second time and still for us, no baby. During this time we also found out that Jess only has one ovary, which is layman’s terms meant that our chances of conception were reduced by half, at best.
We started wresting with this idea that perhaps God’s plan wasn’t to make us parents by birthing a child ourselves? So we prayed, and slowly we gave the whole pregnancy thing over to God, and we began the process of adopting from Ethiopia. But we are weak and so we decided to try a fertility pill called Clomid, and in our double mindedness, we were hoping that although we now really wanted to adopt, we still wanted to conceive. Jess took the pill during the month we started our adoption and soon after, Jess told me that she didn’t feel like we should continue taking it. She said, if we are going to move forward with this adoption, I think we should stop actively trying to conceive. And so we did. We remember telling people that the feeling of starting the adoption process felt like we were pregnant, because we were so excited. (little did we know, Jess was in fact pregnant at that very moment.)
So, you can imagine our shock, just a few weeks later, on the 4th of July, I convinced Jess to take a pregnancy test and it came back positive. It was the strangest feeling. We both felt this sinking feeling in our stomachs. Don’t get us wrong, we were shocked and ecstatic, but we also had to grieve the loss of this new idea of how we thought our family would look.
We were weak; we were very weak. Instead of rejoicing in this miracle we had just seen him perform; we grieved. This family we had envisioned God was building, this United Nations home we would start to resemble, was now being replaced by a pasty white suburban dwelling family. We already live in a small white house, with a red door, and a little white dog. And then conviction came, and our imperfections were made very clear to us.
At every turn we watched how our expectations have been exceeded by God’s grace. We can’t imagine our lives without Micah. Clearly this was God’s plan. Clearly God was using our weakness for his glory.
After Micah was six weeks old, we began talking about adoption again. Would we try to become pregnant again? Quite frankly, Jess was not in any mood to talk about more children quite yet. I think we wanted to adopt in the future. We told people we wanted to adopt even though we now knew that we could conceive.
From the time Micah was born, and even until now, God has been working on our hearts. Convicting us of our lack of faith, pride, arrogance, feeling guilty for becoming pregnant when there are countless children in this world in need of being adopted.
God has been conforming us to His plan, to His timing, to the fact that He is the one who ordains who our children will be, biologically or not. Teaching us that we are his children. Reminding us of scriptures, like when Jesus tells his disciples “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” Or in Isaiah where God commands us to “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
Which is why Jess and I are up here today. We believe God has used all of our circumstances and weaknesses, to point us towards Christ. And from that, to point us towards adoption as ministry, and not simply to make us parents again, or to be a metaphor, or to stand in direct opposition to abortion, or to bring racial reconciliation by adopting a child that has a darker skin tone than us. It’s about having the opportunity to help lead a little soul to love Christ.
As one author put it “Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as a mere metaphor.”
Jess shared a verse with me that she read yesterday that really sums up our hearts. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes, “I will gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” and that’s exactly how we feel.
So, God willing, our plan is adopt an African American infant through an Ohio adoption agency (and just tell people this child is from Ethiopia!). Our hope is to have an open adoption with the birth mother, and to use this opportunity and relationship to convey the Gospel, and how by Christ’s death, we have all been adopted as sons and daughters of God.
When we look back on the last few years, we have seen over and over our lack of faith, our weakness, our sinful hearts. One example of that is our often-faithless hearts in believing that God will provide for this adoption financially. We know he provides for the things he’s called us to do and yet over and over we doubt. Yet, when we look back, we’ve seen over and over again how God has shown himself faithful to us in spite of our failing in every way. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

in another year i'm gonna miss these days

In another year I'm gonna miss the way his 25 lb body sinks into mine just right
Not too heavy but heavy enough to ground me like an anchor
A paper weight on a stack of unstapled pages
Like my days
Apt to blow away with the slightest breeze, wind 
or uncovered sneeze

Bottle times are as special to me as nursings were just a few short months ago
It's funny how time makes fuzzy out of crisp clear
How the haze of newbornness is replaced by the fog of wanting to remember so bad we forget

How I can barely remember the featherlight heft of his 7lb 9oz body
How it slid out of me and carved for itself a place on my chest
On my lap
In my heart

He is saying words that maybe only I can distinguish
But it tells more of growth and understanding than a hundred poems
thees and thous scrolled cursive style

He follows commands and follows me, all shadow like
Gives two-armed hugs and reaches out a block to share as I type
He says 'wow' with mouth ringed in perfect 'oh' formation
Not to nurse but to communicate

In a year I'm gonna miss these days
Where naps are long and when one sleeps there is silence
When one is soothed there is none left to console except my own aching heart that whimpers how time has gone too fast

A trite warning from those that unfortunately knew truth before it hit me

Thursday, April 5, 2012

precious little lives

melt my heart

last night micah stood at the front window and watched Curtis mow the whole front yard. he literally stood there with a little plastic car in each hand for a good 20 minutes. it was so sweet. he just kept staring in his sweet little boy way and then every so often he would turn to me, sitting next to him on the dining room floor and would point out the window, like he was asking me, "do you see him, mom. you see what dad's doing out there?!" it was the most heart-melting sight.

then, about an hour later, after Micah was in bed we got a call from our friend who had been in labor. the baby was here, but not until after a complicated labor which ended in a very emergency c-section. she sounded awful, but over-the-moon at the same time. "i've never felt anything like this before," she told me. a mother's love. that's what that is.

life is so precious and so fragile i thought to myself later that night, rethinking the course of events her and her husband had to go through earlier that day. thank you God for protecting them from all that could have went wrong.

we had plans to go visit them in the hospital this evening after Curtis got off work. but i woke up this morning with no plans and an itch to hold a baby that hadn't yet hit the 24 hour mark. so i texted her, "i don't think i can wait until tonight, would you be up for a morning visit." to which she responded, "of course."

He was precious. with big hands and even bigger feet. as she recounted the traumatic events of the previous day to another friend who was visiting, i couldn't help but think again what a blessing new life is.

After our visit we had to walk through the children's hospital to get back to the parking garage. with Micah in his stroller, a healthy, happy almost 14-month old, we walked past numerous parents walking with obviously sick children. some bald, some in wheelchairs, oxygen masks, IVs.

my first thought was how lucky we are to be blessed with such a healthy kid. i used to say, when talking about an impending birth - "just as long as mom and baby are healthy." but today made me rethink that statement. maybe that's not all there is to it. as we walked to our car i thought - how blessed they are too. kids are a blessing, however sick or healthy.

while a healthy baby is definitely a wonderful thing, maybe they know secrets about a parent's love that i couldn't possibly know. maybe they feel like the lucky ones.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

adoption update: baby fever

adoption paperwork & other odds and ends in the afternoon light

Maybe it's because a good friend is in labor today and I'm anticipating holding her fresh newbie son Sammy sometime soon after he is born - either tonight or tomorrow, but the last week or so has found me struck with baby fever.

Now, this isn't to say I didn't want another baby when we started the adoption process, i did, but I didn't have that little familiar ache in my heart to start over with another infant then. but now, well, i can't wait.

But now, nearing the completion of all our adoption paperwork (with just our fire inspection & our two home study visits left to do) it's crazy that the baby itch is just now starting to want to be scratched.

We may be just months from calling another one 'ours', or maybe less, Curtis thinks by June, but only God knows. It's just funny that I'm just now feeling truly giddy to embark on mommying two under two. 

It's daunting really, Micah's barely one and not walking yet. And this time i know what to expect. I know about the sleepless nights and the exhaustion that isn't remedied with a strong cup of coffee. The sobs and the around-the-clock consoling. 

My girlfriend's world is about to turn upside-down crazy as she stumbles into motherhood after her final contraction and push in the next few hours. But me, this time i know what i'm in for to some extent (as many of my mom friends of more than one can attest - I probably have no clue) - but maybe more of a clue than my firs time friend, and that kind of petrifies me.

A three day old infant with become my son or daughter and we will be greeted at the door that first time home by a little barely toddling toddler that has no clue what's coming. i'm thrilled and terrified. two emotions that straddle a fine line.

And it's not that I wasn't excited to add baby #2 when we started this process last october. i was in a far away idealistic sort of way. 

one day when we get that call to come pick up our baby, it will be so awesome...

and it will, i trust it will be one of the most amazing moments in our lives, but up until lately, i hadn't thought much past background checks and insurance letters and stacks and stacks of mind-numbing paperwork. 

Maybe not until i sat down to write our birth mom letter. a letter that will be read by potential birth mom's of our next child, part of the profile they will read to get to know us. and my heart broke. 

She is out there. She may even be pregnant right now. She is real. WIth a real story, real hurt and a very real decision to make. This story is more than the story of us getting a call to pick up our child at the hospital days after he/she is born. He has a past, she has a history that i wasn't a part of. He will be loved and thought about and fretted over by more than just Curtis and I.

Wow, how did i get so off topic?

All this to say that I'm feeling more and more ready. more excited and hopeful that he/she will come into our lives at just the right time. not a moment too soon or too late. Maybe before his room has drywall or before we have her crib. Maybe before Micah starts walking or talking more than just a handful of cute words, and that will be okay too. 

Just like my girlfriend can't wait to put a face to the name they've had picked out for months, I literally cannot wait until i see the face of my second child. To see just who exactly God's picked out to join our family through the awesome gift of adoption.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

catching up: first vacation as a family of three


While there were definitely wrenches thrown in to our first family vacation (for example: no kids under three allowed in the condo's pool & a croup-like cough that led to an urgent care visit that led to penicillin for double ear infections) we had an unforgettably relaxing week spent pool- (they had a kiddie pool for little visiting un-potty-trainted tots) and beach-side. 


these two made sure we still had a nice week - even letting us leave the sicko with them for the day so we could go frolic at the beach.



Micah was a flying champ on the way down despite a 4am wake-up call and a two-hour delay to start our journey southbound.


The way back we weren't quite as lucky (no doubt due to his ears and missing regularly scheduled nap time) but eventually he conked out belly down across our laps and we had a silent trip on the second half of our journey home.


It's funny how you can wait so long (five years long) to get away on a proper vacation and then it's over just like that. In another week my tan and freckles will begin to fade - I just hope it doesn't take us five more years to get back to the ocean.


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