Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Adoption Day

The day had finally come when the adoption of Brian and Faith would be finalized. I had told the kids the night before that they could sleep in because they would be skipping school. Both of them woke up early. I let them watch some cartoons for 1/2 hr. in their pajamas. I cooked up a special breakfast of maple sausage, fried eggs, and toasted english muffins with jelly.

When I got ready to go for my morning walk, Kirk decided to go with me, and the kids rode ahead of us, on their bikes. They were able to get to the park ahead of us, and had time to play on the playground, before we turned back for home. By the time we got back home, it was time to get dressed and head to the court house which would be about a 40 minute drive away.

Brian was a little nervous about going to the court house. He was afraid that bad memories would surface. The court house was the last place he had seen his birth mother. We did what we could to reassure him that we were going to the court house for a good reason. On the drive there, he kept giggling, which is his sign that he is having a hard time dealing with the emotions he is feeling.

When we got to the court house, we went through security and met our attorney, AASK case worker, CASA (court appointed special advocate), and DES case worker by the court room where our case would be held. The attorney went through the procedure of the case with Kirk and I and made sure the kids were comfortable with the procedings too.

When we were finally called, we went into a very small court room. We sat together at a table that faced the judge. The questions were asked and then the judge asked Faith and Brian if they were good with the adoption. Faith said, "yes". Brian said, "definitely!" The judge and recorders smiled. When the judge asked them their names, Brian introduced himself with his entire name, including new middle and last name. He is very proud of his new name, and introduces himself that way very often.

After the case was done, we had pictures taken with the judge and our case workers.
Faith and Brian's CASA, who had worked with them since being put into care, took our family out to lunch at the Olive Garden. At lunch, she gave the children and Kirk and I gifts. Faith opened her's first. She pulled out a printed paper that read: "Faith is going to Disneyland", and an admission ticket was attached to the lower right corner. She just stared at the piece of paper.
I said, "Faith, what does your paper say?"
"What else does it say?"
"Faith is going do Disneyland."
She continued to stare at the paper.
Brian pulled his out and looked around at everyone with a puzzled expression.
Faith started to smile.
Kirk and I opened our gift. The casa had framed a family picture, given us tickets to Disney and a 2 night stay in a hotel. When we showed Brian and Faith our tickets, they suddenly realized that they were really going to Disneyland. This was not just a trick.
Faith smiled and laughed. "This is the best day of my life."
Brian was excited too. It was hard for him to stay seated at the table. Fortunately we were in a quiet corner, so Brian was able to get up and walk around a little bit. On the way home, they could hardly contain themselves.

We made a quick stop at the library, and while we were there we got their library cards switched over to their new names. Both of them signed their cards and included the middle initial of their new middle names.

That night we had dinner at Aunt Lisa's. You could tell the kids were happy and relieved that this process was finally over. I was kind of out of it. I had underestimated the emotional energy that this day would take.
It was a good day. It was great that now we didn't just "feel" like a family, we were a family.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Before you adopt...

It is tempting to watch the story of a child that needs a home and get this idealized fantasy of what adopting is like. You may call the agency to find out about "Joey" that was just featured on your local news. It might be discouraging when you find out that you can't just go down and sign the kid out of the "orphanage".

When my husband and I were going through our training and background checks, which took the better part of a year, I would get asked questions like: "aren't there all kinds of kids waiting for homes?" "why do you have to jump through so many hoops when they need a family so bad?" "what takes so long?"

The time it takes to prepare for bringing these children into your home is worth it. While going through 10 weeks of training , Kirk and I were better able to understand our choice and solidify our decision to "foster to adopt". During training we got all kinds of ideas on handling various behaviors. We met other people with the same interests. We gained a better understanding of how the "system" works and how to use it to our advantage.

The state wants to do everything they can to make sure they are placing theses children into safe homes. Sometimes families get through the cracks. We learned in class that 25% of foster homes end up being abusive homes. That is one reason why it is so important that we take the time to go through the screening and training. 

In preparation for you decision to adopt:

Step back and get a realistic view of adoption.
Be patient. You don't want to hurry this decision.
Think about it. Do research.
Decide if you want to adopt an infant, an international infant, an older child. Find out what agencies are in your area.
Talk to people you know, who have adopted.

One thing that was hard for Kirk and I is that we didn't know anyone who had adopted older children. Most people we talked to were afraid of that, thinking that children are somehow stamped and sealed by the age of 3. Sometimes television and internet stories that tell worst case scenarios, stereotype older children "in the system". The thing that finally turned our opinion was meeting someone who had adopted an older child, and going to the agency that they had gone through.

Make sure your agency has a good support system. Prepare family members for the change and see if they can help out. You do not want to be alone! Adopting older children comes with its own unique issues. Most of your friends will not understand how special these kids are. You almost have to experience it to believe it. My husband grew up with 17 different foster kids in his home as he was growing up and we were still shocked at some of the things we experienced.

Adopt for the sake of the child, not to fill a hole in your heart. Become satisfied with who you are, without children. You will set yourself up for disappointment and exasperate the child if you expect the child to fill your own personal needs.

Prepare yourself for what I call "post placement depression". When you choose to invite these children into your life, nothing will be the same. Kirk and I had been alone for 16 years and then brought a brother and sister into our lives. Our personal space and everything else was suddenly invaded. Some the idealistic ideas I had in my mind went out the window pretty quick.

It is hard work. The children will be going through their own shock and grief cycle as they adjust to your family. It took our family about 8 months of hard work before we started enjoy being a family. I had an eye twitch most of those 8 months-I laugh about that now. It was totally worth the hard work. They gradually bond. Give them time. After all, you are all strangers when you meet.

Sure these kids have unique needs, but they are just kids. They want to be wanted and loved. They want a stable family. What better thing could you do with your life than to give a child unconditional love. 


Strange Conversations

When you adopt an older child, you have interesting conversations and questions. It is a unique family experience. Sometimes "precious", sometimes "heart breaking", they are conversations that tell me how far we have come as a family and how blessed I am to have these children as my own. Here are some of our conversations, most of which come from Faith:

First time we meet Brian and Faith-"What should we call you?" and "Are we going to live with you forever?"

"So is this your car or our car?" "Are these your cats, or our cats?"

A couple of hours after moving into our home-"Do you like having us live here?"

As we were signing up for library cards with the librarian-"Can I change my last name? I don't like my last name."

"Am I being good?"

"Would you ever hit me?"

1 week after they had been living with us, Faith asks- "How long are we going to live here?"
and "Are we going to be here at Christmas?"

When Christmas started to get close-"Are you going to buy our presents at the dollar store?" "If we get christmas money, are you going to take it?"

They went for a visit to their foster mom's one last time- "Are you tricking us and sending us back for good?"

"Are you my real mom?"

"Do you love me?"


Coming Home

On Saturday we attended a birthday party, put on by their foster mother. Brian and Faith's birthdays are 4 days apart so they were celebrating together. Now that the reality of what we were embarking on had hit us, and Kirk and I were scared. I felt like I was in a daze the day of the birthday party, and probably looked it too. We met their grandmother and her husband and their older half brother.

It was a strange day, and I can't imagine what was going through their little heads. Everyone was taking pictures of the new "family". Everyone was so happy for this happy ending. We were scared, and the kids barely understood what was really going on.

Saturday night, I again felt a panic attack coming on. I had to quiet myself by reading before I went to bed. I kept waking up. Faith and Brian were moving in tomorrow after church.
We were scheduled to pick the kids up a 1 pm at their foster mom's. We left early to stop by IKEA to purchase a dresser for Brian's room. Then we stopped at a coffee shop near the foster mom's to relax for a little bit.

I received a call soon after we got the the coffee shop from their foster mom. she said that the kids had gotten up early that morning and had been asking her every five minutes when "mom and dad" were coming by. They were making her crazy and she wanted to let us know if we were running early, it was fine with her if we came early.

We left right away. As soon as we pulled into their street the kids ran outside to give us hugs. Brian and Faith had gotten us special key chains. Kirk's chain was a cross and mine was an angel with the word "mom" on it. I realized then that it was going to be an up and down, up and down emotional experience.

They were very excited to arrive "home". Brian helped "dad" put his dresser together. He started calling Kirk "dad" immediately. I was "Tina". Faith avoided the terms by calling us indirectly "you" or something else. 

Faith spent a lot of time in her room arranging her "things". For being 9 and 10 years old, they had very little. Their clothes were kind of ragged and they didn't have any toys. It was a little overwhelming to think about all the things they needed. Over the next few weeks we would receive generous gifts from friends and family that enabled us to get clothes and basic needs.

After 2 hours of being in her new home, Faith asked us, "Do you like having me live here?"
Later she asked, "Are we going to live with you forever?"

We ended the day watching some tv. Brian snuggled up next to me. Faith sat right next to me on the opposite side. The whole time we were watching tv, she made constant gutteral, throat sounds that sounded almost like a whimper.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The lighter side

This list records the funny things that happen. Brian is the one that expresses himself loudly-he is all heart. Faith is the quiet, thoughtful one, so this list will be mostly Brian incidents.

I picked the kids up from school one day. Brian hops in the car and says, "mom drive like a maniac all the way home, I have to pee bad!"

I get a note from Brian one day on red construction paper with pasty white letters spelling out the words "I Love you mom". He tells me later that he couldn't find a marker so he used his deodorant instead.

Brian was attending a children's program at church and the pastor came to give the children a pep talk before a big performance in church. Pastor ended the talk by asking if anyone had a question. Brian's hand popped up right away. 
"Yes, Brian, you have a question?"
Brian looked shocked that he had been called on. "Ummm. Ummmmm. Ughhhh."  "YOU ROCK!" he shouted really loud.
Everyone laughed and the pastor said, "I knew I always liked you."   

One night I went to tuck Mason in bed. He held out his hand and said, "That will be $10 please."
I looked at him, and then bent down and kissed his cheek. "That kiss was worth $10."
He kissed my cheek, smiled and said, "That kiss was priceless."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Almost Home

We met Faith and Brian on a Tuesday. Wednesday we scheduled time to take them out for a short visit with us. We met their foster mom at their day school and took them out to Wendy’s.  On the way into Wendy’s Faith asked what they should call us. When Kirk asked them what they thought, Brian piped up right away, “mom and dad”. Faith looked like she was thinking or waiting to see what we said. We told them that if they felt comfortable with mom and dad that was fine with us, but if they weren’t ready they could take their time .

Over dinner we were getting all kinds of questions. Faith asked, “So, the Element, is that your car or our car?” and she made a motion with her hand to indicate all of us. I said, “our car.” She seemed to get a kick out of that. They started saying things like, “when do we get to see our house. What are the names of our cats again?  On and on with our.

After Wendy’s, we went bowling, Faith was very chatty with me. Brian followed Kirk everywhere and took every opportunity to say “dad.”

When our visit was over, none of us wanted to leave each other.

The next day was Faith’s birthday so we called her on the phone to wish her a happy birthday and that we would be at their birthday party on Saturday. As soon as Kirk hung up, the phone rang-it was Brian saying, “Hi”.

Friday we picked them up and brought them to the house to show them their home and their bedrooms.  They loved seeing their rooms and meeting the cats. We had some dinner, strawberry shortcake and went swimming. As soon as we told them it was almost time to go back and that they needed to dry off, Brian had a meltdown. He refused to get out of the pool and just went completely wild. It was the first time we had seen this side of Brian and it was a startling dose of reality. He had this crazy look in his eyes and took some time to get him to comply. 

On the way home he was pretty wild and was getting his sister worked up. We lost our way for a little while on the way back to the foster home. Faith asked if we were going to have to spend the night in the car.  Brian started laughing uncontrollably.

By the time we reached their foster home we were all a wreck. Brian ran out of the car, arms flailing like crazy and ran into the arms of his foster mom. Faith just walked with her head down. The foster mom looked at us and then at them, “Is everything ok?” I wondered if the kids were thinking they had messed up and we would change our minds.

On the way home I kept seeing Brian’s’ crazy eyes and playing over and over what had happened. The reality of what we were about to take on was heavy on us. We had a hard time sleeping that night. For the first time in my life I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I kept imagining that the next 10 years would be like this.

Kirk and I had long conversations. Could we do this? They were already calling us “mom” and “dad”.  We felt like we had no choice but to make the hard commitment to do whatever we had to do and get whatever support system we needed, to make this work. For the sake of the kids we had to do this. We were going to wear our knees out in prayer, and we were going to have to stick together as a couple like we never had before. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monsoon Emotions

During a good Monsoon a dust storm is followed by rain.  The heat increases and draws out all the moisture from the desert as the day goes on. In the late afternoon the moisture explodes into high thunderclouds that reach up into the atmosphere at a rapid rate. The downdrafts from these forming thunderstorms kick up dirt. A well-formed storm can kick up a wall of dirt miles wide and thousands of feet high, causing traffic accidents, and dusting everything in its path. When the dust passes a downpour of rain almost always follows it.

After spending a year with our kids we have gotten so we can see the signs that something inside of them is brewing into a storm. This past weekend, Brian regressed in his behavior a little. He would be swimming in the pool and we would hear him growling. His play was unusually energetic and he was having a hard time calming down. His emotional strength was low and he reacted or cried over everything.

After 2 days of watching this behavior and giving each other puzzled looks, Kirk and I had a talk. We both agreed that Brian must be thinking about something. Kirk had some grocery shopping to do and he took Brian along. On the way to the store, Kirk talked to Brian.

“How are you doing, Brian?”

“Good” was the answer.

“Well, you are giving me signs that something might be bothering you. Are you thinking about anything?”

Brian hemmed and hawed and tried to change the subject by asking what kind of car had just passed them.   He finally said, “Yeah, I’m sad that I might never see my mom again.” He again changed the subject by asking about another car they passed.

Later that evening we had a family talk. We have talks occasionally where we open the floor for them to ask us questions or talk about things they are thinking about. Brian brought it up again, “I am sad that I might never see my mom again.” He started to rock back and forth, buried his head in a pillow and started to laugh hysterically.

Faith looked at Brian, and then at us, “He does that when he is upset.” She then scooted over to where I was sitting and grabbed my hand, “I’m scared”. I held her hand. We let Brian laugh and rock for a while. Then I got on the floor, sat next to him and put my hand on his back. He sat up and rested against me. Faith moved over to my other side and rested up against me on that side.

We talked. Brian was cycling through grief again and he needed a safe place to go through it. I was reminded how wounded theses kids are.  

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How I met my kids

Kirk pulled into the cul-de-sac and parked in front of our case workers white Silverado. My heart was pounding and my head throbbing. I looked at Kirk. I saw it in his eyes too. Did we make the right decision? What if they hated us? What if we weren’t ready for this?

Kirk moved first, “We might as well go in”. I moved, but slowly. It was like in a dream where you can’t seem to get your body to move fast enough to run away from the monster. He took my hand. We walked toward the 2-story house, up the front stairs to the porch, and Kirk reached his hand out to ring the doorbell. I knew now that there was no turning back. Ready or not, here we were.


About 1 year earlier, Kirk and I had gone to an orientation at AASK, the Arizona Adoption of Special Kids. We were really impressed with the presentation and signed up that we were interested in more information on foster to adopt*. We had thought about this for many years. Kirk and I had been married for 16 years and were unable to have children of our own. We felt like this was the right time in our lives to move forward with adopting children.

It took us about 8 months to go through the paper work, background checks, and the 10 weeks of training.  Once we were certified, we started to receive e-mails on profiles of children that were available for foster/adopt. Sometimes it was overwhelming to just read the cold hard facts on the kids. Sometimes I wondered if I was in over my head.

About 2 weeks before we met our kids, I got a crazy idea. I called Kirk at work and asked him how he felt about adopting siblings. I didn’t see myself raising an only child and I felt that it would be a hard adjustment for the first child we adopted, to bring another stranger into the home. Ideally, I thought it would be nice to adopt a brother and a sister too. Kirk and I agreed, so I sent an  e-mail to my case worker. I got an  e-mail back right away. It said, “Funny you should mention that. I will send over a profile that just came through, that you might find interesting.”

We thought the profile sounded right for us, so I called our case manager. He agreed to represent us at a meeting regarding the children. Five families in all sent their caseworkers to represent them at the meeting.

I was getting ready to leave for a movie night at church when I got the call. Out of the five couples, we were unanimously voted to take in Faith and Brian. It was so exciting and scary all at the same time. I called my sister and let her know. I told a few friends at church that night too. It was almost overwhelming to feel all the emotions of the drastic change that we were about to experience in our lives.

1 month later we met with our case worker, the state workers representing the children, their court appointed special advocate (CASA) and a supervisor or two. At that meeting we were presented with all the known facts of the case.  Every issue, every single good or bad deed that they had done.

Their CASA had taken a photo of the kids recently and passed it down to us. In the photos, they were hiding behind a tree, poking their faces out and smiling ear to ear. They were so cute. It was Friday and we were given until Monday to make our decision. When we left the office, I remember standing outside with our caseworker and Kirk said, “It sounded pretty good to me. We will let you know as soon as we decide.” Our case manager agreed that this sounded like a good case. When we got in the car to leave we both looked at each other. “What do you think?”, said Kirk. “It sounded good to me”, I returned. “Lets go for it.” We felt very at peace with our decision. I didn’t feel any conflicting feelings or misgivings.

On Saturday, I called the CASA (who had given me permission to do so) to ask more questions. When she answered her phone and started talking I heard the voice of a little girl in the background, “who is that?” That was the first time I heard Faith’s voice.

On Monday we alerted everyone that we decided that we were going to take these kids in. Everyone was excited to have finally found a home that would take both Faith and Brian.  Placements for older siblings can be very hard. Faith was 10 and Brian 9. Our first meeting was set for the following Wednesday. We would have dinner with the kids at the foster home where they were currently living.

The state worker told us that she would get to the foster home early and talk to the children before we got there. She would tell them that a couple had chosen them out of all the other children in Arizona, to be a part of their family. She would then show them pictures of our home and tell them a little bit about us. Then we would show up…..


So Kirk rang the doorbell.  We heard a little commotion inside. A skinny little boy with big eyes swung the door open. He looked right at me and hollered, “She’s pretty!” and ran back inside. When we came in out of the sun, I saw a little girl in a flowered jumper, sitting on the couch, holding the pictures of our home in her hand.

We sat down and the case worker encouraged the kids to ask us questions. I don’t remember what they asked us. I do remember Faith was quiet and seemed to be studying our faces. Brian couldn’t wait to show us the tricks that he could do on the trampoline that was in the backyard. We were only supposed to stay about 2 hours to keep the first visit simple.

Later, the state caseworker said that she had never seen a visit go so well and it seemed like we all got along so quickly. Maybe she tells everyone that, but then maybe not.

 At a photo shoot with friends that night I told them, “I just met my kids and I have fallen head over heels in love with them.”



*Foster to adopt is when you are willing to take in a foster child whose case plan has moved toward adoption. The risk factor (or emotional risk) is higher, because that can change.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thirsty Living

I was running errands with my daughter on Sunday afternoon, when I realized my mistake. Faith and I had forgotten our water bottles-something a desert dweller is never without.  I was thirsty, so thirsty my mouth was dry when I tried to swallow.  It was the 32nd day in a row that temperatures had soared over 110. Wind blew like waves out of a just opened oven. I licked my dry lips out of impulse, but knew they would just chap. To the east monsoon clouds were building over the McDowell Mountains, and I hoped they would bring rain. It seemed lately though, that even the most threatening storms passed over or fizzled out.  Sometimes a few fat drops would hit the sidewalk and evaporate seconds later on the sizzling pavement.

I was not only thirsty but I wanted to see water-not water in the pool, real, natural water.  When the passing storm caused temperatures to drop below 100 that evening, I knew I had an opportunity. I wanted to visit my favorite spot in the desert.  I knew that there was enough for the hike before the sunset or before a storm would reach us. When I told my family where I was headed, they all wanted to go too. There was a sense of excitement.

We quickly filled our camelbacks and put on hiking shoes and drove out to REACH 11, a desert preserve at the north edge of Phoenix. If you judged a trail by how it looks when you start, you would not choose this trail. A sandy path winds through sparse mesquite shrubs and scorched grass. An old saguaro cactus, pitted with holes from cactus wren and gila woodpeckers, is a sentinel near the beginning of the path.

We started the trail, knowing there was water at the end of our path. We knew that the desert would give way to something that few people know about. The mesquite shrubs got bigger and closer together, and then the path became cooler as overgrown mesquite boughs reached overhead. Tall green African grass grew thick in the shade. Coolness was rising up from the ground in surprising drafts.  Rabbits were darting across the path in a crazy scurry to get away from us and we briefly saw the faint outline of a javelina ahead of us on the path. Then we came around a corner and there it was, the pond, a little pond surrounded by trees and grass and teaming with life, in the middle of a barren desert. Dragonflies dipped their tails in the water. The surface of the water was teaming with water spiders and knats. Fish of all size swam to the edge when we stooped down to the surface of the water. In the dried mud around the edge were footprints of desert animals that had come for water.

I have visited this place of solitude for 7 years and have never seen it dry, even in the strongest heat blast. To a desert dweller like me, this is a refreshing sight, to know that even in the desert there is water.  There is nothing spectacular about this pond, except that there is not supposed to be any water here.

In the past year it has also become a place of hope for me. I have had desert experiences. I know that there are droughts in life too. Last summer I had come to a desert place in my life. I was burned out, empty. It had been a year of tremendous life change, and my mind and body said,  “stop”.  When I tallied up the year it wasn’t surprising to find myself in this emotional desert. I had ended a job and my boss unexpectedly died two weeks later. I started my own business and taught myself web design, which sometimes made me want to pull my hair out. I was dealing with conflict with a family member. At the same time, my husband and I had decided to adopt and we had gone through 10 weeks of training and a lot of paper work. Kirk and I were just around the corner from major life change and sometimes I didn’t know if I was ready. I was confident about the decision but not about my ability to be a parent. I was scared.

I was thirsty and their wasn’t anything to swallow, or so it seemed. I didn’t have the emotional energy to lift my Bible and figure out what I should read. I went to a Christian bookstore and found a devotional that looked like it was written for me titled,  “Dancing in the Desert”. I started to work my way through the book, knowing that there was water, even if I was in the desert. It took a week for me to finish 1 chapter.  I took my time drinking it in.

A close friend knew I was depleted. I don’t remember everything she said, but she encouraged me that God must be preparing me for something. There was a reason for this barren desert.

This is what I found: Rest in God, A path to quietness with God, and a surrender of control. I began to loose my fear of the desert and started to embrace the thirst for God that it was giving me.  Slowly, quietly, the cool refreshing rain began to fall. Some of the bonds I was holding onto gave way.  I kept on the path and eventually I came to the water.

It was after this time in the desert that God brought Faith and Brian in our home, who eventually became our adopted son and daughter. That chapter would become the most difficult period of my life thus far. I was glad that I had found rest in God and was ready to surrender control of my life. He had work to do in the lives of 2 little kids and he was going to use my husband, and he was going to use me. He used that desert to strip away some excess baggage and strengthen me for what was ahead. My friend was right. 

When I visit my pond I think about my journey through the desert. I know now that even when I don’t know what is at the end of a path, I can trust what God has for me.  


Monday, July 21, 2008

The emotional side of infertility

Early on in my marriage, I had a strong desire to have a baby that would look like Kirk and I.  It never crossed my mind that I would be one of “those people” who couldn’t have children. Even many years into our marriage, I thought that eventually I would get pregnant. Some of my journey I can attribute to just plain youth and inexperience. I had a small life perspective.

For the first five years we were quiet about our plans or lack of ability to have children. Innocent friends and family would joke about when we were going to have children.  It hurt so much. I just wanted to share my fears of what I was experiencing. Now I look back and wonder why I wasn’t more open.

The church we were attending at the time overdid mothers’ day. The insensitive services made motherhood a right of passage. Good Christians had children and really faithful Christians had many children.  Two families in our church were working on the dozen mark for children. I’m not hitting on their decision but setting the case for the atmosphere at the church.

I remember  one Sunday in particular. A mother in the church had a premature baby and had an emotional experience with her daughter in the hospital. On mother’s day, they had her stand up and gave her a standing ovation. I was so hurt. What kind of hero was she? She was overdramatic about her experience and I was having to keep up a front every week over my infertility. The bitterness and anger had definitely settled in.

Bitterness was a natural stage of coming to terms with what was going on. It seemed like a long stage. I think some couples never get past the overwhelming desire to have children and the “unfairness” of it all. If I had been able to have children before the 10 year mark, I would not have gotten past that. I am so glad that I was able to complete that journey. I am better for it.

The things you never say to an infertile couple is:

 “I know this couple that couldn’t have children. They prayed every day, and 10 years later they had a child”

“Your still young, there is still a lot of time”

“Don’t rush it, kids are a handful”

“Just trust in God, and he will reward your faithfulness”

Don’t complain about how hard it is to have children. I am not talking about labor pains, but the every day dealing with children.

Best advice I can give is listen.

I started to get past the bitterness after about  7 years, but it still came back in spades on occasion. It was a gradual process until I finally came to terms with God’s will for my life.

As I began experiencing the other hardships of life my perspective of suffering changed. I started to see just how narrow our human perspective can be. It is not safe to assume God’s will,  it just breeds discontent. Why is it that we can assume that the prayer, “Lord please give me children” has to be answered in some particular way? Why does the answer always have to be yes? God is more creative than that.

I remember getting a phone call from a well-meaning church member one time. She had been praying and felt that God had impressed on her to tell me that I needed to make a declaration in front of the church that God was answering my prayer. He was giving me the child I wanted if I openly declared my faith in his promise. Fortunately, I was at a time in life where I could kindly listen, hang up, and not think much of it.  Believe it or not, this happened twice.

I realized that I was a complete person as God made me. I could be completely happy and content in the plan He had for me. I didn’t need to understand it. I didn’t need to control it.  I was at peace with God being in control. 

I can't have babies

After Kirk and I had been married for 5 years, we got the idea that babies were not going to happen for us as easily as they did for some other couples. We needed a little extra help.

At first, we did simple things. I did a lot of reading and tried things like taking my temperature every morning and making charts. I also started taking baby aspirin every day.  For a while, I tried some herbs that were possible natural remedies.

Then we did the weirdest thing ever. A local retired pastor had gotten into iridology and was taking people for a small fee. (Iridology studies the markings in the eye around the iris and connects each fiber to a part of the body.) This man lived in a remote area in Pennsylvania. I remember driving up the dirt road to his property and parking by a huge barn. When we arrived, we were taken to a seating area with big, old leather chairs. The walls were covered in antique wallpaper and taxidermy animals. When the retired pastor came out to greet us, he told us that God had told him not to do iridology but that he was going to give us each a foot message.  He rubbed some oils on our feet and messaged them. When he was done, he told us that we had a parasite and it was gone now. Fortunately, he was also led to do the session for free.

At some point, maybe around the 6-year mark, we made the decision to talk to my gynecologist about our problem.  He checked Kirk first. Testing a male is quick and easy so they like to target them first. Kirk came through, so it was my turn.

What followed was a series of tests and procedures, some of which were very painful.  When none of those were conclusive, I had exploratory laparoscopy. The doctors found a moderate amount of endometriosis and scraped it out. They felt that maybe now, I would be able to have children. Still nothing.

I was then referred to a fertility specialist. I remember feeling excited, like we were finally getting down to the real stuff.  At first I started taking basic fertility drugs to help increase egg production. Eventually I started taking shots. This was hard for me. I had to mix the medicine and give the shots to myself in the thigh. I cried the first time, and didn’t think I would be able to do it. The medicine made big welts on my leg and burned as it went in. At just the right time, as determined by the doctor, I went into the office where they performed an Intra Uterine Insemination.

This was an emotional time. I think the drugs played with my hormones and made me more emotional than usual. It was hard to wait for results. It was crushing to see that first negative result. The doctor thought we should try at least one more time. We did, still nothing. The doctor said that we were in a ½% of cases. Not sure if that made us feel better or not.  Although the doctor wanted us to keep trying, we were tired and felt done. I wasn’t feeling well either, and felt like my body needed a rest from all the chemicals I had been putting in my body.

After 10 years, I was diagnosed with Graves disease and after 2 years of failed treatment, I had my thyroid gland removed with radiology. After recovering from that, I felt better than I had felt in my whole life.  My thyroid doctor thought that this could have also been a contributing factor to the infertility, because it was estimated that I could have had a diseased thyroid gland for several years.

Because of that diagnosis, after we moved to Phoenix, we pursued a fertility doctor one more time. I had taken the basic fertility drugs and started discussing with the doctor about which form of artificial insemination to pursue.

After one of the visits I looked at Kirk and told him I didn’t feel like doing this anymore. I didn’t feel any sense of desire or need to do this. I was satisfied that we had tried. He felt the same way. I called my doctor and told her we had decided to discontinue our treatments. We both felt a sense of relief.

I am really glad that we decided to see our doctor and the specialists. To this day, I feel like we did what we could. We knew that ultimately it was in God’s hands.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What About Bob?

“I’m afraid Bob is gone,” the quiet whisper woke me from my sleep.

“What?” I sat up in bed.

Kirk had already left the room.

I jumped out of bed and grabbed a robe from the closet.


1 week and 1 day earlier.


Bob came into our lives 8 days ago, early Sunday morning. Kirk had gotten up at 4:30 to finish painting the house before the hot July sun baked us. He was doing some prep work when “Bob” came waddling by him, and walked out toward the pool.

Bob is a rock dove also commonly known as a pigeon. He had a broken wing and somehow came to our backyard.

When Mason woke up, he discovered Bob in the grass by the big tree, taking shelter in the shade. He ran inside, “mom there is an injured bird in the backyard!”

I gave direct instructions that he could watch the bird but needed to stay far away so as not to frighten the bird.

I googgled and yahooed about broken wings. Their wasn’t much we could do if we didn’t take him to the vet.

I called shelters, knowing that it would be hard to find help for a common pigeon. No such luck.

Over the next days we put out water and food for the pigeon. One day as I watched him bobbing across the lawn, it came to me. I told the kids that his name was “Bob”.

Sometimes Bob hung out in our shed, sometimes we could see his head popping up behind our bunko (a cement bench by the outdoor fireplace). Sometimes he just took a loop around the yard for…exercise?.

Every night we checked on Bob. He was eating and drinking.

When Bob jumped in the pool one day and couldn’t get out, Mason ran to the rescue and scooped him out. I wondered if that would be how he would go.

After the fireworks on 4th of July he didn’t leave the shed for 2 days. We thought he was dyeing. But then he was spotted doing his laps around the yard on Wednesday morning.

The sentiment around the house became, “Poor Bob.” “Where is Bob?” Wednesday at lunch, Madison asked if we could pray for Bob.

Last night, I was out watering the grass. Bob  was walking around. I heard a small splash and turned to see that Bob had hopped into the pool again.    I ran over in a panic.

 “Bob, what are you doing?”

I was surprised to see Bob floating like a duck and using his wings as paddles. When he paddled over to the ledge, he couldn’t get out. I put my hand down to help and he paddled away.

He tried to get out again and failed again. I stuck my hand down in front of him, under his chest. He looked at me like, “I guess I don’t have a choice”

He hopped onto my hand and out onto the pool decking. He shook his feathers out, gave me a “whatever” look and waddled away.

This morning Kirk went out early to check the pool cleaner. That is when he found Bob face down, legs up, in the pool. He came in to wake me up. We would need to take care of the body before the kids woke up.

As I grabbed my robe from the closet, I glanced back out our bedroom window. Kirk was walking by the window with Bob on the pool scoop. I couldn’t believe it, but Bob was flapping.

I ran outside.

“Where is Bob?”

Kirk pointed into the grass. A soaking wet Bob was sitting in the grass looking a little dazed. I gently scooped him up and moved him to the pavement. I was afraid that in his dazed state, he would be vulnerable to fire ants.

“What happened Kirk?”

Kirk said that after he woke me, he came back out to find Bob back upright and floating like a duck. He scooped him out and put him in the grass.

So… Bob is back in the shed taking shelter from the sun.

Maybe pigeons have 9 lives too. Hopefully he will be ‘‘bobbing” around for awhile. He has at least 5 more lives to use.

Sometime in mid November Bob disappeared. From the scattering of feathers in the backyard, we think one of the neighborhood cats got him. For the 6 months that he was with us, it was fun. He got used to me going out to the shed when it was time for his dinner. Bob would follow me to where his food dish was. Sometimes he would tap his nose on our sliding glass door, and that would drive our cats crazy. Bob was interesting that was for sure.