Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year! New Possibilities!

     It's hard to believe that there are only a few days left in 2011.  As the year draws to a close there is definitely some sadness that our baby did not come to us this year.  Jim and I both really felt that this would be our year.   We had several almost situations and a match that unfortunately didn't work out.  It would be easy to look back and question our choices.  What if we had said this?  What if we had done that?  Would things have turned out differently?  Did we miss our chance?  
     The answer is a resounding no!  We don't understand why the wait has been so long, but we still believe more than ever that there is a baby for us.  There is an inner peace in us that just won't let us give up hope and for that I am very thankful. 
     This year has had its difficulties, but it also has had it's blessings.  

     We saw an increase in our contacts:  We updated our letter and did lots of personal networking.   Many friends passed along our contact information and blogs.  As a result, many more potential birthmothers have the ability to find us

     We did have a match:  Even though that match did not work out, someone picked us!  And if it happened once, it can happen again.  We gained valuable experience about the match meeting and matching process.  We also gained gratitude for the amazing workers at our agency who showed us so much compassion and encouragement after the match fell through.

     I started writing again:   I love to write and it has always been a way for me to express my thoughts and feelings.  I stopped writing for a time after we lost our baby.  It was just too painful.  But thanks to my friend Cindy's encouragement, I started this blog and am loving writing again.  My blogs often end up being mini-devotionals to encourage me.  And someday this blog will be a great record of our adoption journey.

     Many friends and family have joined our journey this year:  God really has blessed us with great family and friends who love us, pray for us and encourage us on a daily basis.  With our facebook page and blog we are able to keep in contact much more easily and regularly.  We are amazed at how many of you go out of your way to post my blog, send us an encouraging word, or just check in and say hi:)   Thank you!!!

     We do have much to be thankful for this year!  Most importantly, God continues to walk with us on this journey.  He provides the resources, strength, and hope for us to continue on each step.  He has a plan for our future and we continue to put our trust in Him.  We look forward to 2012.  It's a new year with new possibilities:)


Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Yet to Come

     Heather of Open Adoption Bloggers recently added a prompt to write about a holiday moment made possible through open adoption.  Since we are a waiting family, I took a different approach.  I hope you will enjoy reading about our wishes for a Christmas yet to come.

     Christmas is our favorite time of year, but it can also be a bittersweet time for families like us who are waiting to adopt.  There are a multitude of kid-centered activities to enjoy and we often find ourselves making statements like, "When we have a baby..." or "I can't wait until we have kids and..."  That doesn't mean that we miss out on having fun.  We just borrow our family and friend's kids and have a great time spoiling them!  But in the back of our minds, there is always the hope and prayer that next year we will be celebrating with a little one of our own. 
     We've thought and talked and dreamed about how the holidays will change once we adopt.  So here is our "wish list" of some of our favorite holiday traditions that we look forward to celebrating with our kids someday.

     Baking Christmas Cookies:  Amy especially loves to bake.  We look forward to sticky fingers, a messy kitchen, and packaging up a box of goodies to send off to our child's birthparents (or having them join us if they live close enough).

     Caroling:  We both love to sing.  We love the thought of bundling up the kids, spreading some "joy to the world," and then heading home for some hot chocolate and cookies. 

    Decorating the tree:  If you've read my previous post, you know how ecclectic our tree is.  We look forward to adding a baby's first ornament as well as kid created ornaments.  We also envision fun times heading out to cut our own tree, tromping through the snow to find just the right one.

     Zoo Lights:   There is something magical about Christmas lights.  Add lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) and hopefully our kids will be as mesmerized as we are. 

     Bronners:  Speaking of fun family outings, Bronners is one of our favorite places to visit!  We don't get there as often as we used to, since it's back home in Michigan.  But this 5 football fields worth of wonder is at the top of our list to take our kids to.  We can't wait to see their faces light up with amazement and joy.

     Christmas pageants:  Our nieces and nephews have often enjoyed putting together a Christmas play for the adults.  There's nothing cuter than little kids dressed up as angels, wise men, and shepherds.  Definitely a picture perfect moment! 

     Christmas Morning:  This may sound crazy to some people, but we are really looking forward to waking up to the sound of kids jumping on our bed and yelling, "Wake Up!  It's Christmas!"   We will race down the stairs with them to see what "Santa" has left under the tree!

     The Christmas Story:  It has been a tradition in both of our families to read Luke Chapter Two before opening gifts.  It reminds us of the greatest gift-Jesus- and the love God has for each of us.  The story takes on new meaning as we anticipate a baby coming into our lives and changing our world forever. 

Friends and Family:  Spending time with friends and family is one of the best things about Christmas.  Hopefully, through open adoption, we will have plenty of opportunities to share some special time with our child's birthfamily whether in person or through skype.   

     These are a few of our favorite things...we hope you will add some of your own! 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

O Christmas Tree!

     Putting up our Christmas tree each year brings back so many wonderful memories.  In my family, the tradition has always been to put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  My Dad would set up and shape the tree and then wrap the lights.  Afterwards, we would all take part in decorating the tree together as a family.  Each ornament held a special memory and we enjoyed talking and laughing and singing Christmas carols together.
     Jim and I have continued this tradition and we cherish the togetherness we share as we decorate our tree each year.  We usually put our tree up right after Thanksgiving and leave it up until the end of January  (One year it was actually still up on Valentine's Day so I replaced the ornaments with hearts and ribbons).  Jim sets up the tree and wraps the lights while I put on some Christmas music and make hot chocolate.  Then we decorate together. 
     Our tree would never win a fashion contest!  There is no set color scheme.  The ornaments do not match.  And in recent years, our tree has started to lean a little to the side (probably from the weight of too many ornaments!)  But we LOVE it!  Each ornament holds a special memory.  We talk, laugh, cry, and remember as we hang each ornament in it's place.  When we finish, we always see not only a beautiful tree, but also a beautiful picture of our life together. 
     So for this blog, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite ornaments and the memories behind them with you!
       Some of our ornaments pre-date our time together such as this santa ball and gingebread man that I made in elementary school.  When I was in school, we made ornaments almost every year.  Many of them have been lost, but these have remained and continue to grace our tree each year.  They remind me of simpler times and the pure joy of being a kid.

     Of course we have an ornament to celebrate our First Christmas together as husband and wife!  We had a December wedding.  The church was all decked out in pine boughs, white lights and candles.  It was a beautiful and magical night.  This year we will celebrate 17 years of marriage...and I can honestly say that Jim is still my very best friend!

     I received many special ornaments during my time as a teacher.  Pictured below are two of my favorites.  The first is a simple gingerbread tree given to me by one of my special education students during my first year of teaching.  He had cerebral palsy and could only communicate through a special sound board,  but his smile never failed to light up the room.  The second ornament (the green one) was created by one of my 7th Grade Pre-Algebra students near the end of my time teaching.  It has a fan inside that spins as the heat of the Christmas lights rises up into the cylinder.  Both ornaments make me smile and bring back so many memories.

     Ornaments from former students are not the only kid crafted ornaments to grace our tree.  Our nieces and nephews have kept us well supplied with their creations over the years.  Many of these now adorn the bookshelf in our bedroom.  Since we live away from family right now, it makes me happy to wake up in the morning and have their smiling faces greet me.  The ornaments hold love, laughter and an infinite number of hugs to make my day a little brighter!

     Several years ago, Jim and I started a tradition of buying a Christmas ornament whenever we traveled to a new place.  We have a ball with a toucan from St. Thomas, a cable car from San Fransisco, Mickey Mouse ears from Orlando and so many more!  They are all unique and hold special memories of our travels.

     Some of our ornaments bring us tears and hope.  We have a baby carriage ornament that represents our desire for a baby, noah's ark ornaments that represent the theme of our nursery, and a hope ornament that reminds us to keep believing for our miracle.  There is also a special angel ornament given to us after I found out I was pregnant.  Now it reminds us of our baby in heaven who we look forward to meeting some day. 

     Other ornaments are just there because we liked them for one reason or another.  There are snowmen to represent the snow that we love, nativity sets to remind us of the reason for the season and some santas just for fun. 

     Looking at our tree makes me happy and reminds me of just how rich we in memories, rich in friendship, rich in family, rich in love!  I joyfully remember the past seasons; I am thankful for all God has blessed us with this year; and I am filled with hope for the future.  Soon we will need a new, bigger tree to hold all of our ornaments and memories.  We look forward to adding more special ornaments along the's first Christmas, our own little toddler creations and reminders of special times spent with friends and family.