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Friday, July 22, 2011

Dark clouds...

Home study visit #2 is officially completed as of two days ago. I know I previously blogged a little bit about it, but with each passing day since we began this part of the process, it has taken on a whole different feeling. I realize that it could be due to many different reasons like a) the fact that it is seeming more and more real, b) it continues to define the "bittersweet" portion of the title of this blog, and c) satan is really trying to have his way with my thoughts and feelings the further we dive into it all... because this "whole different feeling" I speak of is not the warm and fuzzy kind.

Home study visit #2, metaphorically, has just left us with this looming dark cloud overhead. It was a lot of focus on the negative things in our pasts individually, and as a couple, that the agency feels could potentially affect our roles as a mom and dad to an adopted child. Even just rereading that sentence after typing it, gives me the feeling that an outsider could read it too and get the impression that I'm talking about some absolutely horrific circumstances. But the truth is, I'm talking very real, but very common, and truthfully, very normal circumstances that have since become a part of our testimonies and have proved God's power and love of redemption, restoration, and grace. I've mentioned them here on my blog before, so I'm not ashamed of mentioning them again, but I'm talking about my husband's past addiction and struggle with pornography, and my unfortunate experience of being raped as a young teenager. These two things, clearly, are not pretty by any means, or easy to talk about, so you might be able to imagine sitting there with an almost complete stranger, rehashing every little detail as vividly as possible, and trying your hardest to keep from screaming out at them, "I promise you I can still be a great parent!! Please believe me."

From the beginning we both questioned and went back and forth about whether or not we wanted to divulge this information to them, but ultimately decided that transparency was the best way to go. We questioned it only because we both knew that these two things could be cause for concern as far as their own judgment goes. We just knew that being open and honest about it would mean more questioning, more investigating, and knowing that it would take a lot on our part to "convince" them that even though my husband struggled with this type of addiction, that he has overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony. We knew it would take a lot on our part to "convince" them that even though this terrible thing happened to me, that I am very much mentally stable, and even more so, thanks to an amazing Heavenly Father, that I have forgiven. Regardless of how messed up and ugly, we chose to tell, and to feel empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak boldly and confidently about it all as over-comers.

Even still, I can feel the fight swell up inside as I write about it, because I know the truth and the power and beauty that has come out of ugly pasts and unfortunate circumstances. But the lady sitting across from us doesn't necessarily know that about us. As she sat there poker-faced and typed out our answers, resembling a court reporter, as we poured our hearts out trying to remain confident, this haunting dark cloud drifted over our heads, and satan began scheming. And the ugliest part of it all? He (satan) is so very good at what he does.

For days now, that cloud of shame, guilt, and regret has poured out scattered storms that have left us feeling so defeated and unworthy of the call to be parents. It has clouded our view of the joy that is the sunshine in the otherwise absence of this cloud. And through it, I know satan has rejoiced as he whispers discouragement in our ears: Just give up.

It's H.A.R.D. And as we fight to stand on the truth of the Word of God - and we are fighting for our children, here - satan works his way in to remind us of how good he is at these kinds of attacks.


God reminds us of how He is even better at what He does. His words cannot come in a more timely manner. As I was doing my Breaking Free by Beth Moore Bible study the other day, a perfect message from God was waiting for me. I have put the words of this message verbatim as it comes from the study book, and as you read it aloud to yourself, put your name in every blank line. As applicable and meaningful as it is to me when I read it, I know that there are others out there who are in need of some serious comfort, and encouragement from the Best. I couldn't NOT share. I read it, and I feel the fight inside come alive again. I realize that mine and my husband's dream to have a family is dependent upon our faith and our willingness to stand against any attacks, and not determined by what we have done or what's been done to us in the past. Because the truth is, no matter how big and bad this looming cloud has seemed, God has already gone before us in this battle. He knows what is waiting on the other side of this. He has hand-picked every specialist who crosses our path, and regardless of what our pasts hold and what insecurities we felt during our interviews, He is holding the outcome and decision safely within His grasp. It's not easy at all, but we have to trust that the One who has called us down this road to adopt will not forsake us. We are sheltered from this haunting cloud in the arms of a Loving, Faithful, and very Trustworthy Lord. He's got this.

My child,________, I loved you before you were born. I knit you in your mother's womb and knew what your first and last words would be. I knew every difficulty you,________, would face. I suffered each one with you. Even the ones you didn't suffer with Me. I had a plan for your life before you were born. The plan has not changed,________, no matter what has happened or what you have done. You see, I already knew all things concerning you before I formed you. I would never allow any hurt to come into your life that I could not use for eternity,________. Will you let Me? Your truth is incomplete unless you view it against the backdrop of My truth. Your story,________, will forever remain incomplete...until you let Me do what only I can do with your hurt. Let Me perfect that which concerns you.

I remain,
Your Faithful Father

Isaiah 61:1-4
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
planted by God to display his glory.
They'll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.

They'll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Unintentional blogging hiatus...

Woah. A whole month has passed me by without a single update here. Why? You ask. Two words:
Home Study

As of today, we are half-way through our home study part of our adoption process. There are a total of four home visits that our adoption specialist is conducting, and we are practically done with two. I will explain the "practically" in the following break-down:

First visit: Mini joint interview, paperwork overview, and safety checklist walk-through

Second visit: (Today) Individual interviews...I had to leave the house this morning while she came and interviewed Jeremy. Two and a half hours later, I came home for my turn, but she had to leave an hour after that. So she'll be returning on Wednesday to finish my interview. "Practically" done.

Third visit: Long joint interview

Fourth visit: Something about "wrapping it up". (I'm forgetting something here, but my adoption folder is not next to me and I don't feel like looking it up.)

After our first visit, we both felt on top of the world. All of the questions were great, and sitting there with my husband really made this whole thing feel completely real. It was all good. Being honest, I cannot say the same about today's visit. It was different. Hard, pressing questions about our pasts, family histories, and such, kind of put a gloomy spin on things. I've said it before, but our specialist is amazing. She is exactly what we need for our process, so it was not by her personal fault that things felt a little downcast as she walked away from my house. Hard to explain, but to sum it up a bit, I guess I am just battling these conflicting feelings about this decision being in the hands of other people.

Filling out self-assessment questions, digging up the past, and feeling like our answers have to somehow convince this person that we would be great parents is a hard thing to face. I keep wondering if a multiple choice-like questionnaire is really enough to say whether we really "qualify" or not to be parents to a sweet baby. I wish they could just SEE my heart. I wish they could replace all the questions with spending a comfortable day with me, in a real-life environment, so that they can SEE how much this means to me. I wish they could see how tender and wonderful my husband is with kids. It scares me a little, deep down, that this decision, or home study "approval" is within their own judgment.

On the other hand, I am grateful for this part of the process because it is such a learning experience. But then I selfishly wish that every parent had to go through this before having children. It seriously might change some things. But then I also understand that they are just doing their job to make sure that the right families are matched together. These babies are the priorities, not the adults. But see what I mean? See the conflict?? Back and forth, back and forth. It's crazy.

We appreciate every bit of encouragement we have received thus far. Beside the grace and love of God, it is seriously carrying us through. I guess it comes down to keeping the right perspective. Knowing me, I could sit here all day long and pick apart and analyze every single one of my answers thinking it's not enough. But all that is is an attack of satan. (I won't even capitalize his name because I don't feel he is worthy enough of such fame. Lowercase it is!) He knows that things are going well, so it's just like him to come in and try to tempt us to discouragement. So yeah. Keeping the right perspective. Focusing on the truth, and shooting the head off of every single lie!

God is bigger. He is more powerful. He is higher. He is faithful. He holds the outcome of this journey right in the palm of His mighty hand. And there is no other place I would rather it be.

Please continue to pray. We appreciate the support and encouragement. We cannot do this without you.

**Side note** Check back soon for a financial update. We still have a long way to go, but we have gotten closer since I last updated.