Alphabet Soup

Stirring up Words and Other Treats

November 2, 2013
by Kathryn
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National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month. While I’m not very familiar with the history or activities that go with this month, my family is obviously getting more and more involved with adoption. I don’t have any new information on our adoption process, but we continue to wait for the Lord’s timing. The roller coaster ride is scary. There are days that I’m feeling pretty good, but other days that are such a struggle.

That’s adoption. It is bumpy and scary, and too often families encounter many difficulties along the way. This month I want to share a little with you about adoption each day. I hope to be consistent, but since I’m already starting this a day late there may be days I have to double up. I’ll share some resources, stories and ways that you can get involved with orphan care.

October 14, 2013
by Kathryn
4 Comments

Fear

The first week we were busy. The gone every night, leave before the sun is up kind of busy. I think it was good. I couldn’t handle time. If I had the time I would just let myself feel pitiful and get worse.

When the busyness eased up a bit, all the feelings came back. The feelings that were so quickly buried. Feelings of why, what purpose does this failed placement have? Couldn’t we have just been waiting for the last months and not be getting ready for Jane to come home? Feelings of sadness. I cannot help but miss her and want her back in our lives. Honestly, I’m not angry but I do feel hurt.

The last feeling that keeps coming up is fear. It’s by far the strongest and most persistent. I was starting to even feel alone in this feeling until I talked to my friend Heather. I’ve seen on Facebook that this month is infant/pregnancy loss awareness month. I looked at that and thought, that’s not me. But when we were talking last night about this fear, it’s the same. It’s fear that the next time will be just like the last. That next time we’ll get excited and start preparing only to find out that she or he is gone again. Now I can see that all of us who have lost a child know that same fear.

The only unique thing about the fear we have would be the birth families that we’re now scared of. I was once scared of the birth moms who were falling apart and couldn’t get it together. I worried about how we could create a healthy open adoption with someone who could’ve been on drugs or homeless. Now I’m scared of the ones who have it all together. I keep thinking, oh they’ll change their mind just like Eloise did.

We’ve begun to say yes to placement situations again. We’re more cautious this time, but I know I need to let go of my fear. Despite my fear, I know that the safest place for us to be is right where God wants us. He called us to this journey, while we cannot see why we had to have and then lose Jane, we’ll continue on.

September 21, 2013
by Kathryn
13 Comments

Adoption: A Very Bumpy Road

Oh words. I have so many. Sometimes I feel that the only way I can truly convey what I mean is by writing them down. I don’t feel like I’m really praying unless words are scrawled across my journal. I have to write everything down. There is no apology for leaving these pages dormant for so long. Life has been busy, but I feel right now that if I don’t get things written down and out of my brain it might explode. So if you’re interested in my personal therapy session by all means follow along.

Thinking back over the last few months, it was mid June when I wrapped my mind around the idea that we would be waiting for a long time for a placement. That was a Monday and on Tuesday we heard from our agency that a young expectant birthmom wanted to meet us. It was such an exciting shock! Due to our scheduled vacation and our agency being swamped we couldn’t meet her for almost 2 weeks. At that time we told our immediate family (moms, dads, and siblings) and a few close friends. We were guarded, excited about the possibility, but couldn’t let ourselves get excited. I literally mean couldn’t. I knew what could happen, but it didn’t feel real nor did it feel like it was happening to us.

We went on our vacation, which was amazing. Seriously, we love Western Michigan. At the age of 27 I do believe we found our vacation place. Everything was perfect and you all should visit South Haven sometime. Moving on…

We met her. I’m tired of writing birthmom or her, so let’s call her Eloise (which was one of the middle names we debated for Jane). We met Eloise, and she is amazing. Justin wrote about how much his heart has changed for Birthparents in an earlier post, but until you meet someone or you yourself are doing research about open adoption, I just don’t think you can understand how we feel. She made a huge sacrificial choice to carry this beautiful baby. (As I write this I cannot even convey how much I admire her). She’s completely selfless. That’s just a description of what she’s doing, not who she is. Eloise is so very smart, honest, caring, the list can go on. As I write this, do I even know her?

I know what choice you’re making. I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m trying to read books that’ll help me better understand. I do know you’re smart. I know that you listen to great music and are really easy to talk to. I know you’re honest and aren’t scared to talk about difficult things. I know you value your family and the time your mom spent with you when you were growing up. You have a wonderful mom and step-dad that support you. I don’t know much else. That’s ok. We’ve only known each other for a short time, and while we don’t know how our relationship will look completely, we have time to figure it out.

At that first meeting, Eloise invited me to her Dr.’s appointment the following week. Through infertility I grieved many things that I would never experience. Yet, Eloise gave me the chance to experience one that I didn’t think I could. I was with her and her mom as we found out if little baby Martin would be a girl or a boy. It still felt a little surreal, but the technician really made it special; it was such an honor to be there. After that we picked up some pink and purple M&Ms to make gender reveal cookies. We had about 25 people over to share in the excitement with us. That felt good.

Those two meetings happened during the beginning of July, and we didn’t get to see Eloise again until the middle of August. During our first meeting we decided to contact each other directly and we currently communicate via text messages. In August we met for dinner and had a wonderful time visiting with her, her mom and step-dad. After dinner we went for coffee/tea and visited even more. I learned then that we could talk through difficult subjects. We talked all about our expectations and her expectations. We learned even more how much we liked Eloise.  If God had brought us together in a different way somehow, we would be friends. Now we have a very different relationship to try to figure out. I left that night not knowing how the next years would look, but knowing that we’d figure it out. I don’t know what Jane will call Eloise, but we’ll figure it out (I hope she [Jane] figures it out and it’s super cute)!

And now I’m here. I’m a little worried and fearful. To be honest I probably never left the parking lot of worried and fearful. I don’t know how things will look come November 24th-ish. It’s really hard to write my fears. It’s hard because my fears, of course, jump to the worst. They jump to Eloise deciding to parent and us going back to the waiting… I’m scared of the waiting and I’m also scared of the next heartache. But at the same time, I’m none of those things. As Justin told me, the staff changes at Bethany didn’t surprise God.  The fact that Jane is a life, as unexpected as she is, also didn’t surprise Him. Yes, I’m scared and fearful, but I’m also trusting. For what’s going on and how I think I should feel, I have this indescribable feeling of peace. God is good, and it will be ok.

That was Thursday.


Yesterday we had hard news.  We heard from our agency that Eloise has decided not to continue working with Bethany or with us.  We cried a lot.  It’s going to be ok, but I miss knowing that Jane was to come home in November.  It’s hard to think that we have to tell everyone.  I know that so many people will pray for us, but it’s still hard.

For what’s going on and how I think I should feel, I have this indescribable feeling of peace. God is good, and it will be ok.  

June 14, 2013
by Kathryn
5 Comments

Fundraising Ideas

We’ve been thinking a lot about what we should do next to raise the rest of the money needed for our adoption.  We have a few ideas, but I would love to hear your ideas or favorites!  You might be curious where we are at in our fundraising efforts.  Here’s a recap:

So far we have paid $7,725.52 in an application fee, Home Study charges and our waiting family fee. We owe $13,350 placement, $1,500 post-placement and $2,500 estimated lawyer fees for a total of $17,350. We currently have $8,000 in our adoption fund and an additional $2,000 that will be coming soon.

This leaves us with only $7,350 left.

Here are some of our favorite fundraiser ideas:

  1. Freezer Meals
  2. Trivia Night
  3. Garage Sale
  4. Mini-Golf tournament
  5. A Both Hands Project <—Seriously check it out!
  6. Ladies Night Out – Light Soup and Salad dinner with a crafty auction (I think I can find some men to babysit)

Those are some of our ideas.  Do you have any of your own you’d like to share?  Is there a favorite you would like to see?

June 4, 2013
by Kathryn
5 Comments

Waiting for a Placement 101

So much of adoption communication comes down to enlightenment. People just don’t know. They don’t know about the process, they don’t know what to ask and they definitely don’t know how to ask it! I had to learn a lot about grace and forgiving others when they have no idea what they’re doing. For example, here’s a question I heard just last week: “Where are you getting it from?” By the time this question was asked to me, I took no offence but laughed at it. Please laugh with me. I know the proper question would have been are you adopting domestic or international. I chose to respond with humor, “We’re only looking for an American made baby right now.”

Sometimes people just need an education. If you’ve followed the blog, you saw a little bit about our home study and the piles of paperwork we had to complete pre-home study. Much of our process has been described and is fairly simple, until now. While we’re having a hard time wrapping our minds around certain situations that come our way, until we describe exactly what’s going on right now, our friends don’t have a clue how the process works.

So here it is, Waiting for a Placement 101, Domestic Style (because every adoption journey is different).

A little back story in case you missed it. First, we completed tons of paperwork, went through a 1 day adoption class, got CPR certified, had background checks, had 10 hours each of additional training and more. Second, we had our home study done. Three weeks in a row on Tuesday mornings, our caseworker came to our home and went through our home study. We talked about ourselves, discussed our backgrounds and childhoods, and then together Justin and I talked about our marriage and how we think we’ll parent. I loved our case worker, and after we were done I missed our Tuesday morning visitor. Third, our home study was approved and we were officially a waiting family.

At the end of our home study we prepared a short profile, a dear birthparent letter and a life book. These snapshots of us are what our agency uses to share about us to birth mommas making an adoption plan. (That’s another lesson; these mommas are making an adoption plan not giving up their child). Our short profile is a really quick glance at who we are. The dear birthparent letter describes us but also lets us present to birthparents how we feel about open adoption. And the life book is a full photo album of us, our hobbies, family and friends.

Every placement that Bethany works with is different. We have seen a lot of situations cross our path and no two are alike. When a birth momma or birth momma and dad start to make an adoption plan they work with Bethany’s pregnancy counselor. At our training we got to meet the pregnancy counselor and she is awesome! I’m so glad that our fees at Bethany give these birthparents such a great resource and support. Once they are secure in their decision, a quick description of the birthparent(s) will be sent out to us on our online Bethany portal. It’s kind of like an email, but it offers one place to check back and see responses. This information possibly includes: race, sex of the baby, and openness preference, pre-natal care, mental health, drug exposure, etc. all answered with a yes or no. From that basic information we can walk away or ask for a more detailed message about the situation. The more detailed information will include a long answer to any yeses, a better description of their view on openness, and some background into their situation and why they’re choosing adoption. We can again say no, we’re not up for this situation or we can ask for our profile to be shown.

Honestly, our profile has been shown a few times already. We don’t know if these parents only looked at our short profiles or if they deliberated over our life books. We just don’t know. But once we say yes, we would like our profile shown the decision rests with the birthparents. They will look through the short profiles of many families that said yes and then narrow it down to a few life books to view. And since all we know is that some birthparents have chosen other families, we don’t know what it looks like to be picked. Right now we view situations, pray other them, fret over them, say yes or no, and then let go. We have heard when a birthparent(s) has chosen another family to adopt their child. And someday, that will be us. I wonder if it will be a phone call, a text message or more information on the portal, who knows!

As Bethany says, God already knows which family gets matched up with which child and it doesn’t matter what we say, how our life book reads or anything…we just let go.

May 2, 2013
by Kathryn
0 comments

Live at Summit9

We’re sitting at Summit eagerly waiting for it to begin. If you want to join us, there’s still a way. Go to Summit9.org and watch the live general sessions. The first one starts in a few minutes and the evening session starts at 7pm.

April 22, 2013
by Kathryn
0 comments

Our wonderful, hungry village

I never posted information about our pancake breakfast on the blog. It was either because I didn’t want to make the non-Hannibal followers hungry or because I got busy and forgot. You can decide the reason. 😉 You caught me, like all of us, it’s been busy around the Martin house.

In case you missed it we had a pancake breakfast this past Sunday morning, and it went amazing! It surpassed all my expectations. It surpassed my expectations of the amount of people I thought would come and also the amount of funds that were raised that morning.

guests

Here are the totals that I’m sure you’re eagerly awaiting to hear. We estimate that about 150 people came by to eat pancakes. We feel so blessed that so many people would come out to support us and show their love.

Sunday morning through pancakes, craft sales and a few larger donations people blessed us monetarily with $2,879.79. Thank you all so much! We feel so much love from our church, our friends and family.

kiddos

We have a couple shout-outs to special people who gave up their time and energy to make Sunday morning a success. My mom, dad and brother who helped set up, flip pancakes and ran around keeping everything going. Justin’s mom, dad and sister who helped set up, cooked all the meat and (wo)maned the craft booth. Nathan, Heather and Rosie from small group who flipped pancakes and served sausage and drinks. Barry, Fran and Whitney who quickly stepped in to flip pancakes and serve bacon and drinks. Cindy and Dorothy who let us take over their kitchen, provided all the toppings and generally took care of us. Mrs. Beverly for making the announcement at church in the bulletin and email. Thank you all so much!  I’m sure I forgot someone, but know that we thank you too!

workers

The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But for right now, it takes a village to bring a child home, and we are so thankful for the village that God has given us.

March 24, 2013
by Kathryn
4 Comments

Paper Pregnant

Last week I was asked if I had any children. Even though, we could be as little as a month away from bringing our little one home (or much longer) people cannot tell that we’re expecting. When she asked me that last week, I responded that Justin and I are paper pregnant! They were confused at first, but once I explained it they were very excited for us. On my way home, I told Justin the story and he laughed at the wording, “paper pregnant.” He had never heard that expression before.

So as we’re getting closer and closer there have been a few things that have made it feel more real recently.

1. We finished our last home study interview on Tuesday.

2. Once we were done, our social worker told us it would take up to three weeks for her to write up our home study. We received a first draft copy yesterday afternoon. She’s the best!

3. I’ve been reading, “What to Expect the First Year.”

4. I talked to my mom last week and we both realized that it’s coming. I asked her what she wanted her grandma name to be; she’s undecided as of now.

5. Our nursery furniture will arrive this week, probably on Tuesday. My parents are picking it up from my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ron this weekend and bringing it by. I’m so excited to receive it and feel really blessed to receive this generous gift. Thanks!

6. We’ve been working on our life book. This book will be used for the expectant birth parents to look at to help them choose the parents. It’s been a lot of fun picking pictures and writing about ourselves.

7. My boss has been talking to me about my maternity plans. Honestly, he’s scared of what will happen when I’m gone, but I have confidence that things will be fine.

8. We went out on a date last night to celebrate our home study being done. We’ve known for a while that our lives will change soon, but the not knowing when has really made us appreciate our date nights. And, yes we did go grocery shopping on our date night. Just a couple of crazies.

9. I picked out colors for the nursery. Since we don’t know if it will a boy or girl the colors are neutral, and we’re still waiting to paint.

10. There are so many things to do: we need to find a pediatrician, buy a carseat and so many other things.

That’s it, we’re Paper Pregnant! We still don’t know when and we don’t know a lot more than that, but we’re getting more and more excited!

March 8, 2013
by Kathryn
0 comments

Pictures

We’ve started working on our life book. Our life book will be used to show birth parents a glimpse of who we are. It will help them make the decision of where to place their baby. I’ll post a couple pages on here once I get some done.

But, we have a slight problem; we don’t take very many pictures. If you have any pictures of us would you email them to me? Please! My email is kathryn@justinandkathryn.com.

Thanks for all your help!

February 27, 2013
by Kathryn
0 comments

Summit9 Conference

We’re going to Summit9! What is that you may ask? It’s a national adoption conference. The best thing is that it’s in Nashville. I love Nashville!

I’m very excited to get together with other adoptive parents and people with a heart for orphans. It should be a great time of fellowship. Some other friends from our church may also go. You should check out the conference at www.summit9.org

We signed up for these breakout sessions:
– Multi-Racial family
– Keeping marriage and family strong on the journey of adoption
– Innovative adoption funding solutions & how the church can respond
– Creative fundraising for your adoption or ministry
– Human trafficking targets – How you can help protect orphans and children in foster care

We’ll have to leave early Friday so we can make it back for Laynie’s graduation but we’re so excited to learn all we can from the breakout and general sessions. Anyone else want to go? There are estimated to be over 147 million orphans worldwide, which unfortunately always leaves a need for more people to care for orphans.