Monday, July 30, 2012

Blessings Galore!

Saving up for Kellen's headstone took us much longer than we thought it would. A few weeks ago, thanks to the donation from so many of you, and from our families, we finally had what we needed to order his headstone and get them to begin making it for Kellen. We have  no idea why it took so long to get the funds saved up.

Well, Lucas happily  made the appointment with the lady we have been working with at Chapel Hill Cemetery, for a Saturday. The night before our appointment, we made plans for the morning and getting everything settled. However, in the morning we woke up and went about our day as if it was a  usual weekend.

We BOTH completely forgot about our appointment! This is so unlike us. ESPECIALLY when getting Kellen's headstone is such a big deal to us, and we were so excited about finally getting it made for him. It wasn't until the evening when, like we were hit by a truck, we realized we had missed our appointment. I dont think we have forgotten a single appointment for anything since we've been married. We arent even usually late for things, but to completely forget is just bonkers.

We reset the appointment for the following Saturday, and you better believe we were there! When we sat down with, Kay, our service rep, we immediately apologized to her for missing our appointment. She turned to us and said, "Oh! It was so much better that way! We were so busy and we are understaffed so I wouldn't have had time anyway!" We were relieved to hear it, but the word I had really heard in her explanation was...understaffed. She then explained to us that they got a new manager and she had only been there a week and they were transitioning.

I nudged Lucas and then we explained that if there is an open position there, Lucas would be more than happy to apply. Kay got really excited and explained to us that the open position was as a family service Counselor, which is what she does. She explained quickly about the great benifits and then ran off to get her manager so she could meet Lucas. After we had Kellens headstone ordered (YAY!!!!) Lucas then met with the manager and gave her his business card and they discussed him coming to work for them.

We left with Lucas giving them his information and taking an application. We went home and he sent them a resume and an email thanking them for their time. This was so unexpected!

After getting Lucas' application the manager called him and they set up an in-depth interview for the Tuesday two weeks later. After what felt like the longest wait ever, he went to the interview, was gone for hours, and came back saying it went really well and he really really wanted the job. He was excited about it and said they had set up a second interview/test thing for the end of the week, last friday. He had to memorize a script and present it to the manager as if he were assisting a family. He nailed it, of course, and when he came home to me pacing the floor, he handed me a letter and said, "now they want me to memorize and present this" I started reading the letter, a little disappointed how long the hiring process was, when I realized that the letter was actually  OFFERING the position to him! Tricky husband!

I was SOOOO happy! Lucas was grinning ear to ear and you could tell he felt so good about it.

This position is perfect for him. He wants to do something that will mean something to people. He wants to be able to provide for our family while making a difference. Well, in this position he will work with families to make sure that when they lose a loved one, that they are eased through the process of making final arrangements and helping them through showing compassion and making their services meaningful and beautiful. He will be able to talk to people from a place of honest understanding, having had first hand experience not only with a very serious loss, but with that cemetery, and with the processes there!

He said to me, "You know, when you are in that position, and mourning, the last thing you want to think about is all the details and about arranging this stuff. Remember, Amber? You just dont feel capable of making decisions. We just wanted people to help us and make decision for us and get things done because you just cant care. Well now I can help people because I understand exactly."

He's so great. One of the things I am most excited about is that he will start there as soon as they get his background check in, he will easily be able to provide for us, so we can move to our own place, get our homestudy quickly done, and move towards growing our family through adoption! SO EXCITED! Plus, he will be making enough that when we do adopt, it will be no problem for me to be able to stay home and raise our children. We are very blessed.

Its funny, had we remembered about our first appointment, the conversation never would have led to us learning about the open position. We would have walked out of there and missed the opportunity completely. Plus, with the new manager being there, even if it HAd come up, she was brand new and was not ready to begin interviewing and hiring to fill the open spot. It was as if something KEPT us from remembering our first appointment, and then this perfect job fell into our lap, or should I say, was dropped into our lap by someone who has more of a hand in our lives than we may sometimes think.

~Happy~ Happy~ Happy ~Happy ~Happy~


We had two second birthdays in the  past couple weeks! On the 19th was Moose's birthday!

Maybe its silly to care about a Dog's birthday, but we love him and love having a day to celebrate him! He got bacon and tons of attention, he got to hang his head out the window on a drive in the car for much longer than usual, and he got to go outside at the slightest of whine. Lucky pup!

More importantly, on the 22nd of July was our sweet Molly's SECOND Birthday!

I cannot believe that it was two years ago that I first saw her beautiful face and held her close to me.
In a weird way if feels like I met her many many years ago, like I was never NOT Molly's mom. In other ways, its shocking that it was two years ago, because at times the feelings are so fresh and on the surface that it's as if that day happened just yesterday.

To celebrate her birthday, Lucas and I bought her a single pink rose and surrounded it with a lot of "Baby's Breath" It looked so pretty, we were both obsessed with it. We went to the cemetery together.
I love that cemetery, it is SO peaceful and I love going to the place in the world that BELONGS to our babies. We set Molly's flowers in her vase and stood and missed her for a while, and took in how beautiful of a day it was. Then we sat on the grass above her, took a little notepad, and each of us wrote her a letter.

It was emotional and cathartic. We both loved it.
I wrote her all the things I would have told her if she were there in our arms.
I cried as I wrote, of course. It felt good to write TO her. Not for anybody else to ever read.
Lucas finished first and held his letter, then folded it up, and placed it in the Baby's Breath above her.
I asked if he wanted me to read it, and he said, "That's okay. Its just for Molly."
I loved that. He wrote a letter that was not for anybody but Molly, and so did I. A letter from her Dad and a letter from her mom.
I finished my letter and also folded it up and placed it next to the rose in her flowers.
It took a bit for my eyes to stop watering, we visited with Kellen, too, of course, while we were there.

We believe that their spirits can be all around us, so as we left the cemetery, though it felt silly, I didn't want to leave them. I whispered, "Come with us, kids."
Lucas heard me, and he said "Come on, kids!"

I think the four of us went home together.
It was a good day. We decided to write them letters every birthday, and one day their brothers and sisters will write to them too. Nobody else will read them, and over the years I bet we will all have our own personal relationships with both Molly and Kellen.

Happy Birthday, Molly!
We love you so much, we are so proud of you. You make us better parents, better people, better Christians, happier more loving spouses, and luckier than most.

LOVE and MISS you every single second!

Zippity Doo Da

Earlier this year, my parents relocated to Larkspur, Colorado from their home in Littleton. I grew up in the house in littleton so it was a bit sad to see the house empty and to hear that someone new is now renting it.

Their new house is pretty great, and the story of them  moving there is better put into detail on my sisters blog, if you are interested.

They have six acres with a creepy cave and a pond and some thick "forest" areas, an old chicken coop that my Dad plans to use as an ice skate "shop" for when all the cousins and grandkids come in the winter and want to ice skate on the frozen pond.

Well, being the avid Harry Potter fan that I am, it didn't take long to name their property features.
The house=Hogwarts, of course.
The Chicken Coop= The shrieking Shack (its pretty perfect, actually, and right next to ...
The Messy Forest=The Forbidden Forest
The Pond= The Enchanted Lake
The train you pass on the way to their house= The hogwards express

I will post pictures to help you fully appreciate the greatness of it all.

 I missed our old house even less when one of the first things my parents did when moving in to their new house was to install a 500 foot long zipline across their new property.

Here is Lucas' first ride on it a few weeks ago:

AMAZING. I cannot get bored of it.

My whole family is pretty adrenaline addicted, and while this isn't exactly SCARY, its a fun thing for us to get to do at my parents! Our kids are going to be obsessed with going to Grandma and Grandpa Hermann's house!

The other day we brought some of Lucas' family to come ride it, too. Unfortunately it started storming after each person got only one ride, but it was still fun!

The zipline was the star of the show during a family reunion that was last weekend with my Dad's siblings. It had been a pretty long time since they had all been together, so it was good to see everyone. We also rode dirtbikes around the property, ate way too much junk food, and of course told stories and laughed like crazy!

My Grandpa kept calling me "Crash" because while I was on a dirtbike I was going really really fast and didn't give myself enough time to slow down before needing to turn and I crashed into a barbed wire fence, bent a steel rod and got thrown off my dirtbike. I got a bunch of bruises and scratches, limped around for two days, but was fine after all of it.

I love family! I'll post more reunion pictures when I go to my parents house and can use their computer :)

Come to Colorado and ride with me!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Oh, I see.

Fortunately, I have always had amazing vision.
Unfortunately, after having babies it got a little fuzzy around the edges.
Fortunately, its livable.
Unfortunately, when you're used to seeing better than 20/20, its REALLY frustrating not be able to read street signs until its time to turn or the time on the oven across the kitchen.
Fortunately, I have always wanted glasses.
Unfortunately, I don't look great in glasses.
Fortunately, I once found a pair of purple sunglasses I loved and I want to find something similar. Unfortunately, Glasses are expensive.
Fortunately, eye exams are so fun! I was laughing so hard each time they puffed air in my eyes, which made the techs laugh with at me. I couldnt keep my eyes open and it shocked me so much I just couldn't stop laughing. Who know it was so entertaining to get your eyes checked?
Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately...)  I can't think of any more unfortuantelies.

I am actually really excited, and mostly just because now I will wear them when I need them but i dont need them all the time, and I also wont need to mess with contacts since i'm not totally blind.

 When I was just out of highschool I bought some nice frames with plastic nothing lenses and wore them with my "smart" outfits (hah!). I found these ugly old 3D glasses plastic frames with no lenses that I wore around as a joke one day and Lucas thought they looked cute. That gave me hope since he's the one that counts!

I told him today that I want to go to an eyeglass place to try stuff on before I order frames online and he said, "I'm okay with that because I will NOT have an ugly wife!"
I laughed so hard, and he answered, "Well I'm getting off the phone now while you think I'm so funny!" :) Smart move.

Here are some virtual glasses pictures.  What's your favorite?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Maybe men dont want to read this.

Emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body. 
  ~Irene Claremont de Castillejo

And if you could take every emotion I feel in a day, most of those seem to be tied to being a mother. I'm pretty positive that my body wanted to be a mom so badly, it convinced itself it was pregnant. And me, if I'm being honest with myself. 

The thought of getting pregnant again is very scary. Terrifying. However, as I have researched what happened to Molly and Kellen more, it has seemed increasingly unlikely that this could happen again. Though, that was how we comforted ourselves while pregnant with Kellen. 

Lucas and I talk about getting pregnant as if we were looking under landmines for diamonds. The risk is great, and could really really permanently damage us, again. But we've seen those diamonds. We held them in our hands just before the mines went off. Maybe, just maybe, we could try again? Maybe if we're extra careful, we could get away unscathed. 
Then again, walking up to that mine and picking it up is the first step. You HAVE to risk it in order to ever get that perfect diamond. And to do so now would mean we would be limping up to the mine, unsteady, wounds not yet healed from the last time we tried. So, mentally, we had settled on the idea that we would try again one day, years from now. Risks are less scary when you can no longer strongly feel the pain of a negative outcome. 

In April, my monthly visitor was welcomed with a sigh of relief. 
In May, she did not come.  The week after she was due, Lucas and I started to panic. You could have heard us say "I can't lose another one" over and over had you been a fly on the wall in our room.  The negative tests were a comfort.
By June, when my visitor had still not shown, I was starting to feel a little pang of sadness when three more tests came up negative. Around this same time is when both birth-moms had also stopped contact or picked someone else. Adoption was now also starting to feel like an elusive dream, so a positive pregnancy test would at least be a step in A direction.
By July, I began to believe that the tests were all wrong and maybe I was pregnant. The one BIG clue when I was pregnant was that someone stopped visiting. Well, she still wasn't here. Unfortunately, I had also been losing weight and had no symptoms. 

Today, I took a doctor ordered blood pregnancy test. The results came up negative and on Wednesday I go in to see what's going on. It's probably nothing. Like the quote at the top says, I kinda feel like my emotions are showing themselves in my body. I am a mixture of sad that I'm not pregnant and relief that I might not have to face another tragedy. I still feel fear about pregnancy, though hope is growing. I feel 100% happy and excited and hopeful about adopting. It feels right.

I've been thinking about the first year Lucas and I were married. We started trying to get pregnant just 4 months after we were married. And while, yes, we are parents and we have children who we love with all we have, we still go to bed without tucking in our little ones. We dont kiss any little cheeks or help teach colors and numbers. We are still where we were three years ago when it comes to that. Three years? You never think it will be you...

p.s. This post was meant to be more informative than sad, but I read it to Lucas and he said "Sad one" which surprised me. Don't worry, I'm doing alright. Sometimes writing things out can make it seem like that is ALL you think about, but we are seriously happy. I'm pretty sure we laugh together 90 percent of the time. Also Spider Man is a good movie and Banana milkshakes from sonic are amazingly delicious and in my belly right now. That sums up my evening.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happy Sunday, Friends!

Lucas and I taught the 11-12 year old primary class today.  It went well.
After sunday school, all the older primary kids met in the primary room for "Singing Time". They sang new song I had never heard.

The kids, when they sang this song, were so reverent. They sang it with such respect and hearing their young voices singing it together had tears running down my face in the back of the room. (I know already, I'm a big sloppy mess. Beautiful things make me cry too often.) It had been a while since I had felt the spirit so strongly and without warning like that. Lucas looked over at me and smiled when he saw I was crying. I shrugged and wiped my face and wished they would sing it again.

(This little girl does a good job, but imagine a choir of children. )

Hope you felt a little closer to heaven, like I did, when you heard that!

"An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never breaks."

You would think, given our history, that I would know better than to get my hopes up.
You would think I would always assume that the worst will happen, or at least I should be weary of getting excited. You would think I would expect to come close and to have things not work out.   However, and maybe I can blame my overly positive mother for this, but I am ever the optimist.

We have received emails from a few people telling us that they know someone from church, or from school, or who was the friend of a friend, and they were sending them the link to our adoption blog. They told us that someone was looking for the right family for their baby. They wanted us to be considered. Each time we feel so grateful for these people helping to get the word out about our hope to adopt. We feel like nothing we can do could ever pay them back for thinking of us.  But aside from that, and I think this is normal, I always instantly think "I hope they like us. I hope it's right. I hope this is it."

That first night, after receive these emails,  it is always the same; we automatically feel the world is a better place because we feel hope. We get excited that something is happening. Being considered is a million times better than being unknown. We lay in bed talking for hours, Lucas more cautiously than me, about how amazing it would be if this worked out. The conversation of what if's usually ends with Lucas slowly falling asleep to us talking about our favorite baby names. Once he's asleep I usually cuddle up to him and lay awake for hours, just hoping and imagining.

The next day I keep my phone in my hand at every moment. I frequently check it despite it not ringing. I check my email at every spare moment. I create "spare" moments so I can check more often. I re-read the emails. Lucas calls me repeatedly to ask if I have heard anything, despite it being so early. We pray that if this is right, that it will work out for our family. We pray for comfort for the birth moms who are going through making such a difficult decision. We pray for the babies.

Then we repeat the process day after day. Slowly, we allow ourselves to accept that they might not ever contact us. We might not be what they are looking for. I worry they will think we aren't rich enough, or funny enough, or artsy enough. I wonder if my blog is too emtional, I wonder if my pictures aren't professional and beautiful enough, I wonder if I offended them in any way. I worry that they wont choose us because maybe we are different religions. I worry that for some reason, they hate us. Its pretty impossible not to critique yourself when you know you are being very closely examined.

 Even after we are fairly sure we haven't been picked, deep down I dont let go of hoping until I know they chose someone else or the baby was born and we didnt hear anything. I know that if I were to get a call that said, "A mother in Kalamazoo has chosen you as an adoptive family. She is in labor now. Get on a plane, you have to be here tonight." I would be there. I would drop everything. I would never consider not going. I could not be stopped. If there was no flight, I would drive. If there was no car, I would run. So, unfortunately, I wait until I know for a fact that that is not my baby. And even then I think about them.

One day we got an email that was different than the others. I got it one night while watching a movie. I read it to myself in shock, then read it to Lucas. It was from a friend of a girl I barely know. She told us her story, which was heartbreaking. Before I even finished reading it I was in tears for her situation. She told us she was touched by our blog and knew our story. She told us about some worries she had and about the reasons for her believing adoption was right for her.  She told us that she could not promise anything, but that she would like to speak with us about adopting her baby who would be due near the end of the summer.

 I honestly think my heart stopped. I think it is afraid of beating wrong and ruining this. I felt different. I didn't feel the same as before because I didn't fear she would think we were all wrong. She had already told us she liked us. I was so excited. Even though I knew she wasn't saying she chose us completely, this was the most hope I had felt since we started our journey. Lucas said to me, "Something feels different here. I feel so good about this." That night he couldn't sleep either. We stayed up talking about names and that maybe this time we wouldn't just come close, but we could actually have a family.

We were nervous about the right way to respond to her email. In my heart I wanted to write to her and tell her everything. I wanted to tell her that I ached for her. That her story broke my  heart and that I wanted to hug her, not as a potential adoptive parent, but because she deserved comfort and love. I wanted to tell her, despite how it might affect us, that if she felt that adoption was not right for her, or if she was being pressured into it by someone, that she needed to trust the Lord and trust herself. I wanted to tell her that even though I desperately want to adopt, I want the best thing for her family, including this baby, even if it meant NOT placing her baby for adoption.

However, I also wanted to tell her how much I would love that baby. I wanted to tell her how her email made me happier than I can remember feeling. I wanted to tell her that I had thought of nothing but her and that baby since the second I opened her email. I wanted to tell her that I already loved her and I already loved the baby. I wanted to explain to her about every goal and hope and dream I have for my future children. I wanted her to be able to meet Lucas and see and feel what a wonderful man he was.

The hard part is, that you fear scaring her. We didnt want to say the wrong thing. We didn't want to say too much or too little. We didn't want to come across that we were just begging for her baby and would say anything to anyone to adopt any baby. We genuinely wanted her to know the truth about any question she would have and to know that we really did care about her.

The only email I can imagine that would be harder to write, is the one she wrote us first.
We prayed together the next day that we would know what to say to her, and got to responding.
It took a long time, but we finally felt that we said enough without saying too much. We were honest with her and we tried to be respectful of her. Then we sent the email and POOF, time stopped moving.

Second felt like hours.
I tried to distract myself by watching TV but ended up staring blankly, my mind going a million miles per hour. Finally I went upstairs to re-read the email and try and put myself in her shoes. I hoped it would feel as comforting as I hoped it would.

But then I noticed that I had spelled her name wrong.

I felt like throwing up. I felt like she wouldn't even read the email, she would think we hadn't really cared. She would think it wasn't meant to be if I hadn't spelled her name correct.
 I had known someone by her name years ago, and had spelled it the way I knew it, instead of the right way. As quickly as I could I wrote her a quick email to apologize for spelling her name wrong. I didn't tell her how much it scared me, but simply told her I was sorry and I wasn't sure how it had happened. I felt like that one mistake could ruin everything. I went and told Lucas and he said, "Amber, I'm sure she will understand that you are human. We were super nervous about writing the email, it wont be perfect. It will be okay, I just feel good about it."

I hoped he was right, and got ready to wait.

Days felt like years.
One week passed and we hadn't heard anything. We knew that she had months before the baby was born, and she might need space. She had a big decision to make and we knew we probably weren't the only family she was considering. We knew had the right to take as long as she wanted and we wanted her to know she made the right choice. We knew she had the right to never talk to us again. What could be more sad than not allowing yourself the time to know you made the right decision? We knew she deserved it.

However, all week I had been feeling like we hadn't fully addressed her concerns in the email. We had tried to keep it simple, but I worried that maybe she would like to know how we felt about the concerns she had mentioned. So we wrote her another quick email to give her more information and wish her well. I knew it was a risk and that it could come across as impatient instead of how we intended, which was to give her all the information she mentioned thinking about in making her decision. Sent the email and then waited more.

Another two weeks passed we continued to pray for her and for her family every day. We waited.
Another week passed and when I got home from work I went upstairs to change my clothes, and I broke.

I stood with my face in the clothes in my closet and began to cry. I could not hold my emotions and the fear I had that we would never adopt. The further away we felt from what had felt so right, the more I missed my babies. I bawled. Lucas hugged me and told me everything would be okay. He told me he still felt good about it. I had checked my email and phone so often with no word that I had let myself get disappointed that many times at the risk of not seeing her email. It had worn me down.

I changed out of my work clothes and decided to go for a run. I took off down the street and began to run as fast as I could. I ran out all my anxiety and fear. I ran and ran and ran with no direction. I ran until my body hurt so bad that my heart couldn't hurt anymore. I hoped that anyone I passed would mistake my tears for sweat because I couldn't keep from crying.  I ran until I was so out of breath that my mind had to think about breathing and about making my legs move so I wouldn't miss my babies so much. I hadn't run so hard in so long and eventually I had to stop. I layed down in the grass at a local park and gasped for air. I ached everywhere, inside and out. Physically and emotionally. I said a prayer and asked for strength and for peace. I prayed for patience. I prayed that despite what I want for my family, that this sweet girl would know what was right for her baby, even if it meant we would continue to wait.

Then I walked home. It was a strange breaking point. Adoption is the most emotional journey imaginable. I made a goal to brace myself for the fact that she might not choose us, but that that would probably mean we weren't the best family for her baby. I wanted, not just for this baby to be part of our family, but for her to be in the best family for her, even if her mother felt it wasn't with us. Knowing that, I gained more patience.

We never heard back from her. I am pretty certain that she probably chose another family or chose to keep her baby. I do not know, though I still pray for her every day. Her baby is due soon or might already be born, and I'm sure she has long ago moved on from considering us. I dont know why, and I try not to ask what we did wrong. It may just not have been right. Not hearing anything was hard, but we heard from people at church that the same thing happened to them a couple times too. They heard form a birth family that they wanted to meet them, and after they respond, they never hear anything. It is comforting to know it wasn't just us.

This is no easy journey. Not for us, not for anyone involved, especially not for birth moms and families. If they have to make a decision so difficult and important, I can wait as long as it takes. When it's meant to be, I will raise a baby in this life. I know it, so I can wait.

We have since heard from another mom who said we were "by far the best" of any couple she was considering. We got our hopes up again, of course. She lived on the east coast and kept vlogs that I followed on youtube. I was a little more guarded this time around, but still let myself get really hopeful.  She would update her adoption channel with her progress, so it was nice to be updated despite her not givine specifics. It was great to see her journey as a birth mom and get a feel for her side of adoption. Eventually she posted a message to all families she had been considering to say that she chose a family who lived close to her so she could have an open adoption. I understood and wrote her a quick message to tell her I was happy for the family she chose and I was proud of her. I thanked her for ever considering us and wished her well. Though I haven't talked to her again, I followed her blogs and when she had the baby I cried for her because I knew how difficult that day must have been.

It is kind of strange to feel so much empathy for these mothers who are placing their babies for adoption. I haven't been where they are exactly, but I have said goodbye to my babies. With each mom I hear about, I have this strange daydream of the day she gives up her baby. I imagine being able to be there. I imagine being able to pause everything so that I can go and hug her. So that I can lay beside her and cry with her.  So that I can somehow take away her pain, but I know I cant. I guess its good to feel for them, but when I think of the day we adopt I feel so much sadness for them mixed with what I know will be the happiest day of my life.  I will feel two very strong emotions at once, and it is strange to imagine.

So that's our journey so far. Some ups and some downs. We understand its supposed to be hard. I have decided I would rather get hopeful and excited and then be sad when it doesnt happen than to never let myself get excited. I dont want to be pessimistic about it in order go guard myself from heartbreak. When it does happen for us, I want to look back and know that I was excited every step of the way. Nervous, inevitable, but always excited. I will love our children from day one, no matter when day one starts for us.  Being a mother is what I want most in the world, it always has been, so there is nothing I can do about getting excited about the possibility of that dream coming true.