Breaking the Silence

Oh hey.

So, It’s been a while. Liiiiiike 4ish months? Something like that. It’s time for that to end. I never intended on taking that much time off from this space, but I think I needed it. And not in a whimsical “I just needed some space” or some crap. No. Like in an “I am dropping the ball in every area of life and I need to figure myself out for a sec.”

“From what?” you ask. Or maybe you don’t, but just humor me for a sec. There are quite a few things that have been pulling me away from writing all of the many thoughts and feelings and all the things here. For starters, I’m pregnant again. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you probably saw our annual announcement photo. Just in case though…

#Lil2Fitt

This is a pretty accurate depiction of our chaos actually. Who is the other person in the photo? Well that’s the second main component of the growing list from the whole me-dropping-the-ball-on-life thing. THAT is the child we are adopting. Yep, at the same time as we are having another baby. He was living with us for exactly 1.5 weeks when we found out I was pregnant. Try to tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor and I will fight you.

This has by far been the hardest thing I have ever been through, which might be sad, yes, but still difficult none the less. I really look forward to writing more in detail about the triumphs and battles and emotions (Which OMG there are so many of) and wins on this blog. I’m sorry that I have not done so in the past few months. I needed to write. I needed to pour my feelings out. I needed to be snarky and honest and vent and everything else, but I just haven’t been able to even wrap my mind around taking that time. I am running on empty, and I am so hoping that my corner of the interwebs will help fill me up again.

That, and Jesus. And sweet tea, as it turns out. And my people. You guys mean more than you know and I’m sorry I suck at friendship and daughterhood and sisterhood and personhood lately. I love you.

Love, Alex

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Broken

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They told me that this would be hard. That adoption comes from brokenness and that it is never as joyful and sunny as it seems like it should be. In our minds, adoption should be happy. A child has been rescued, right? It’s difficult to wrap our brains around the fact that “rescued” is a terrible way to describe it.

Yes, a child was without a forever home, and now s/he isn’t, and that’s so great, but they often don’t feel rescued, and what happens before, in between, and after the courtroom is still broken. (I’ll be using that word a lot in this post, broken, so buckle up and prepare yourself for some redundancy.) I haven’t even had a taste of the heartbreak that some adoptive and foster homes experience, and I am already exhausted. Exhausted from things not going my way, exhausted from the system, exhausted from waiting, exhausted from everything being out of my control.

Some of you are familiar with our adoption process. If not, you can find previous posts here, here, and here. As for a further update, we are still waiting. Sorry. I know some of you want precious, and I just don’t have any of it for you yet.

We have been selected as the pending adoptive family for a boy, but he has not been placed in our home yet. I’m finding it difficult to write about all of this without betraying anyone’s confidence or integrity and I’m sorry for that. I will share more as I feel more comfortable with the situation. That’s the hard part about being known as a writer who is brutally honest. I want to be, but sometimes even I have to have a little more tact.

Here’s some brutally honest for you, though. Seeing the intricacies of the system and how broken it is in and of itself makes me want to quit. It does. I’m so burnt out, worn down, and discouraged that it makes me feel like my small part in what is supposed to be the solution feels like it doesn’t matter. If all I get is pushback, what’s the point, right? This is the ugly side of adoption. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies like our unseasoned brains think it should be. Kids are broken. Homes are broken. The system is broken. WE, are broken.

The formula we make up where a kid is abandoned and then we come in on our white horses and “save” him/her and they are eternally grateful and happy and everything is beautiful just isn’t realistic. Not even a little bit. Yes, it can be beautiful in the end, but something had to break first. God never intends for those kids to be with adoptive parents. They were always supposed to be with their biological families, but through turmoil and heartbreak, we are second-best. We, who God commands to take care of the widows and the orphans. The members of society who are most desperate and in need of love and care. He doesn’t say “Take care of them if you feel ‘called’.” There’s your calling. Take care of them.

He paints a beautiful picture of adoption through the death of His Son. His intention was never for sin to enter the world, but it did, and it took brokenness in its worst form to fix it. The world was broken, so He became broken to come to our rescue. These kids come from situations that most of us can’t stand to imagine, and it’s our job to break and bend in order to take care of them. Not if it’s easy. Not until it’s not worth it anymore. Not to make us happy. But because those kids need to see God in us. Because if we aren’t patient while they figure this out, and walk through the process slower than we’d like, and are hesitant when we feel like they shouldn’t be, and when the system gets us down, who will?

Love, Alex

Spicy


Don’t let this photo fool you. My child is everything they said babies wouldn’t be. He is never cold, and has always gotten too hot for me to put him in those adorable fuzzy pajamas. He is strong willed and opinionated. And he is the opposite of cuddly and sweet.

I tell him all the time that he is not sweet, he’s spicy…just like his mama. I’m telling y’all, this child may look a lot like his daddy, but he is 100% my personality. I’m both proud of this and terrified for my and his (and Bryan’s) future.

This photo was taken while trying to get him to wind down and get ready for bed. He had been fighting me and trying to buck out of my arms. I held him tightly and said calming things to him as he fought and fought and finally was still.

God uses adorable little scenarios like this to gently wave my behavior at me like “Oh hey, see that? That’s you.” He tries to help and teach and refine me and I just fight Him. Nonstop. No matter how many times I’ve “learned my lesson” Having a baby has taught me a lot about how God must see us. Babies are ridiculous and irrational and unwise and clumsy and everything seems so obvious to everyone except them. Hm… I mean really. Babies be crazy. Perfect baby logic: “What’s this? The edge of the bed? Seems smart to just crawl off of here.” God tells us to trust Him, that He knows the way and that it’s better than ours, but we would rather just roll off the bed and hope for the best.

I love this Spicy child with my whole entire heart, and I am beyond grateful that someone loves me that much and more through all of my shortcomings and stupid behavior.

8 Things I Learned About Taking a Baby on Vacation

beach

Whew. We just got back from a week in Hilton Head, South Carolina with some of our very best friends, and then I pretty much immediately turned around and toted Grady to my birthplace, Shreveport, Louisiana for a long weekend. It was a whirlwind of crazy things, two of them being fun and stressful, but I feel like I’ve learned some lessons about taking a baby on vacation that I’ll be remembering for our next beach trip in August. Yes we’re nuts. Thankfully, our August trip is in Gulf Shores where another one of my very best friends resides, so if I run out of baby things I can just beg her for them. (Haaaaaaay Arden.)

1. Whenever possible, leave when baby is supposed to go to bed or at the very least, down for a nap. This should give you a few hours (or normal naptime) of peace when you can start the trip off on a good foot with getting gas, stopping for Sonic drinks (duh) and whatever road trip necessities you have.

2. Stock up on whatever will make your kid happy for the duration of the car ride. I learned that babies just don’t like the car for long periods of time. Or at least my baby doesn’t. Even with leaving past his bedtime, we still ended up with a cranky, fussy baby. Tylenol (because they get sore) and toys are mom’s best road trip friends. For older babies, snacks can probably be thrown in there, but mine is still on purees. For even older babies, those portable DVD players probably seem like God Himself reached down from Heaven and nestled them into the grateful and loving arms of moms everywhere. I look forward to these times.

3. Schedule-Shmedule. We’re not on a super tight schedule around here, but our routine is pretty bomb. We both love it and function very well by knowing what baby thing comes next. Plus, Grady is a pretty good baby. He’s still a baby of course, but for the most part, he will sleep and eat and everything else while we’re out and doesn’t have to be at his home base to function. Enter vacation. Crazy trip schedule + cranky, overtired baby + new and foreign place = yeah right on the normal routine. His naps were a fraction of their regular duration, every mealtime was a struggle, putting sunscreen on was as if I were rubbing Tabasco on open wounds. The list goes on and this type-A mom had to learn to roll with the punches.

4. I totally overpacked the wrong things. Because babies fit into clothes for like a minute tops, I packed alllllllllll of his cutest clothes that fit him right now. I thought I could make do with 2 swim shorts, 2 sun shirts, and 2 swim diapers. I did make do, but I definitely wish I would have considered the type of trip we were going on and what I would need most. we pretty much woke up and threw on swim stuff, so I for sure should have brought more of that. Especially the diapers. Those do not dry fast. And I as a first time mom did not understand the cleaning necessities for them. One poopy diaper being washed out in the ocean had me wishing I would have stocked up on those things instead of the cute clothes he wore half of. (He did look dang cute though let’s just be honest.)

bryan and grady

5. Sunscreen. Like all of it. I thankfully did not have to learn the hard way on this because I slathered it on my crying kid as often as I was supposed to. And really, how often do we reapply sunscreen as instructed? I even thought I did a great job on me and I still got sunburned on the first day, so I was grateful that I didn’t have to deal with a hurting baby on top of a hurting mommy.

6. They will have more stuff than you. Expect and accept it. Babies need a bunch of crap, and since mine is on solids now, food crap was added to the list. Seriously though, so much stuff. I wish I had taken a picture of our trunk. Bryan and I shared a bag and each had our personal totes, plus my sister’s bag, aaaaaaaand the rest was either Grady’s stuff, or stuff used for Grady (pumping supplies, nursing pillow, rock-n-play, etc).

pool

7. Just buy baby food. I usually make mine, but buy it sometimes when I’m in a pinch too. Like an idiot, I brought a bunch of frozen homemade baby food with me that I ended up throwing most of away. I thought I could keep it frozen during the trip, but it all thawed, and Grady couldn’t eat it fast enough before it went bad. Exactly half a day into the trip, I was wishing I had just bought it and left my frozen stuff at home for when I got back. Plus it would have saved me from having to pack and wash and keep track of bowls. Even the pouches can just be squeezed directly onto the spoon. Gaaah, so much baby food down the drain. Hold on, I need a minute.

8. Take advantage of people offering help. Because OMG vacation should not be as stressful as it definitely can be with a baby. When people offer to hold your kid so you can eat or go to play candy crush in the bathroom, for the love of all things good, LET THEM. Having people on your team makes babying sooooo much easier, especially on vacation.

We are pretty #blessed (Sorry.).

bryan and grady2

Love, Alex

The Adoption Thing

So we broke the news to social media land last September that we are looking to rapidly expand our family. I wrote that we were opening up our home to adoption and foster care and that we were seeking two specific kids. I realize that it’s been way too long since I’ve given an update, and those of you that know me IRL have been asking about it and giving us so much support. We are so thankful!

adoption kids

I thought I’d give an update for those that aren’t in the know.

To start with, our home was opened (yaaaay!)! It took much longer than we had anticipated, but I think God knew what He was doing because this hormone-crazed mama would so not have been able to handle it. The second piece of news is not so great. We did not get those two kids. It is ultimately, probably, a blessing. It was decide that their current housing situation would become more permanent, and even though it is sad for us, stability is so great for waiting children.

Our reactions to this news were much different than we expected. I think somehow I saw the writing on the wall and subconsciously prepared myself. Bryan, on the other hand, was pretty heartbroken. Where I was ready to move on pretty quickly (part of which was probably a coping mechanism), Bryan was wanting to take a break and mourn a little longer. I think it was better that way. Even though it was so, so sad, seeing Bryan grieve the loss of kids he never knew reminded me that he is in this and wanting to love children that need it. It’s good to be shown that he’s not just ok with this plan of mine, but that it’s his plan too.

Our original intentions for this were to be a concurrent-planning foster care home, meaning that our home was open to foster kids, but that we are ready and willing to adopt if that became the plan for the child(ren). After these events and my not-so-speedy emotional recovery from having a baby pulled out of me, we decided to be adopt-only for a while, meaning that children who come into our home will already be terminated from their birth parents and on the road to a forever family.

Since all of these events, we have had a couple of calls about kids, and a disclosure meeting about one. We decided that that particular situation was not best for our home right now, and thus are still a 3-person-2-dog family. We have inquiries out on a few kids, however, and we continue to pray about them and hope for the best.

Oh! And we’re buying a house! It happened very quickly, and we move in 3 weeks, which is why I have been more MIA on the blogging. This type-A lady is trying her best to not get overwhelmed and stay organized as I pack and purge and plan (alliteration only somewhat intended).

AAAAAAAHHH wish us luck!

Love, Alex

Surviving.

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Ok. I feel like maybe I am finally in a place to gather my feelings and share them without crying, saying something stupid, or yelling at my husband for zero reason at all. (Whatever. How DARE he put his jeans in the wrong laundry bag.)

The aftermath of having a baby sucks. Hard. I’m over it.

No one tells you that 3 months later your clothes still won’t fit, your marriage will be really really hard for a while, you will cry more than you’ve eve cried in your life, and that you will feel such bipolar emotions, at the same time, all day every day.

Oh my gosh this baby is the best thing to ever happen to me.”

“Oh my gosh my life is over!”

All of this is worth it for this precious baby boy.”

“I may never seep again!”

I’ve never ugly-cried to my husband so much in the history of the world. I’ve caught myself thinking back to when I just wanted so badly to impress this guy. After what he has seen of me, let’s hope that good impression has lasted him through.

Oh my what his eyes had just seen. (Sorry it's blurry, I obvi wasn't the picture-taker.)

Oh my what his eyes had just seen. (Sorry it’s blurry, I obvi wasn’t the picture-taker.)

I wish someone would have told me that I would only want to watch Psych because I couldn’t watch anything that made me feel things. Or that I would find myself saying “I’m sad today.” because there was just no other way to describe how I felt. I wish someone would have told me (and Bryan) that it would be a while before our needs would be met fully by each other. Most of all, I wish someone would have told me how long it would take to start feeling better.

It’s not that I expected to feel great immediately, but my for-real expectation was like two weeks to a month.

Lol no. Grady is 3 months old today and I am just now feeling like my head is above water. It’s all about survival. And the worst part is that next week will feel entirely different and I’ll probably come crashing down again. I can only hope that the memories of the good days will hold me through the bad ones. 

Three months later, I’ve graduated to reruns of Gilmore Girls. Maybe next week I’ll be ready for crime shows again. I also started triathlon training again. Nothing like having to get new workout clothes because my regular ones are too small. #Irony.

**Side Note: My family is doing a biggest loser competition! We are all going to beach in August, so we have until August 1st to lose the biggest percentile of our goal, lest we lose $50 instead. Cameron (my brother) doesn’t get to play and therefore is our moderator and if he is upset about it then he can just TAKE HIS SKINNINESS AND CRY HIMSELF A RIVER.**

Oh! And I made myself a chore chart because the house was driving my crazy. Plus organization and the charting of the chores was therapeutic, duh.

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

So there you have it. All of my emotions and thoughts from the past 3 months word-vomited before you.

It feels good to do life again. Just don’t misplace any laundry around me and hopefully I can keep my cool a little longer.

Love, Alex

The Secret We’ve Been Keeping

Remember all those times when I alluded to something that was going on with me and Bryan that I couldn’t really share yet?

Well, If you follow me or Bryan on Facebook or Instagram, you may have gotten a clue when he posted this: adoption

With this caption–> “Adoption Training Day 1! Wish us luck!”

Yeah.

So on top of everything else we have going on what with HAVING A BABY and all, we’ve made the decision as a family to start our adoption process earlier than we had originally intended.

Adoption has always been on our radar and an ultimate plan for our family. I think on like our second date I planted the “oh hey I hope you’re cool with adoption if this works out” seed. Thankfully, Bryan was super on board. On top of wanting to adopt in the first place, I’ve always had a heart for a certain type: taking in older kids and sibling groups. The ones who usually struggle the most. the ones who are hardest to get adopted and will likely age out of the foster care system with no forever family.

This is something Bryan was also on board with. However, I always prayed that Bryan would not just “be on board,” but that this would be his thing too. I mean, there is that whole “spiritual leader of our household” factor. I knew that this was the case when I came home from work one day (pre-pregnancy) and he had submitted our general inquiry and filled out some basic paperwork to get us started. Out of the blue. Yeah, God seems to have known what he was doing with us.

We did a lot of praying, talking, and driving other adopted families nuts with questions about birth order effect, what our timing should look like, and if we should adopt after or before our first biological child. Our answer was a lot of silence.

This is pretty common with me actually. God usually doesn’t speak to me in sweet whispers and precious moments like He does with some of my peers. I never “feel led” necessarily. What I do feel is an indescribable urgency and conviction to run full speed ahead at a goal or mission until God slams that door closed and (usually much later than I’d like) gives me a peace about standing still for a minute. Bryan loves this about me. You can ask him and he’ll tell you how adorable it is when my anal-retentive, logical mind turns into irrational mush when I “feel led.”

So in this silence, we “decided” (<–lol) to just wait it out until we felt like we weren’t supposed to wait anymore.

Flash-forward to pregnancy, where we were still just, you know, waiting and stuff, when I felt that familiar conviction and urgency.

I was scrolling through Facebook at work one day, and a photo listing for Project Zero rolled through my feed. If you’re not familiar with this awesome non-profit, then please click that link. They serve to bring awareness of waiting children, usually OLDER KIDS AND SIBLING GROUPS, to families in Arkansas. This was nothing new, I saw their stuff all the time. The smiling, heartbreaking faces of kids who desired deeply to be loved forever always move me. Always. But I always say to myself that we are waiting. Until this day, when a photo of two brothers popped up. They were different. They were important to me somehow. I took a screenshot of them and “jokingly” (<–not really) sent it to Bryan with the text “I want them.”

Bryan, the one of us who is rational in these situations and NEVER takes off running without carefully considering where he is going, replies “Let’s do it.”

Our next steps involved a whirlwind of emails and calls to Christie (the co-founder of Project Zero), the boys’ adoption specialist, DHS, and the directors of The CALL in NWA.

See? Full-speed.

Our next few months involved an initial home visit with our DCFS caseworker (Who we LOVE!), lots more emails and phone calls, filling out every form in the history of the world, becoming CPR certified, and most recently, the completion of 30 hours of training. Hence the photo and caption above. (Just to put things in perspective, this is about 85% of the process. We only have 2 steps left to complete.)

CPR Certification never looked so fun.

CPR Certification never looked so fun.

It also involved us learning a powerful lesson: Not everyone will be supportive of us and what we’re doing.

My first reaction to the comments that we received from our shocked friends and acquaintances was anger.

Why do they care anyway? This isn’t their family.

How could she say that to someone she doesn’t even know very well?

 What gives him the right to have an opinion about what we do?

Do they really believe that we are so naive to think that this will be a cake-walk?

I realized that this came from a place of hurt. As a person who too-deeply merits validation from others, I needed positive reinforcement that we were doing the right thing. It was hard not to get indignant and want to point all of them to the multitude of Bible verses commanding us as Christians to care for the least of these. How could they not see the need, and much worse, discourage us from looking at it too?

We stopped talking about it. We didn’t tell people unless they asked, and we certainly didn’t broadcast it on any social media.

I was tired of crossing names off the list of people we could depend on when the going was sure to get tough.

The best part of training to me was that no one seemed to think we were crazy. No one batted an eye to the fact that I am 7+ months pregnant and working toward opening our home for concurrent-planning foster care. As we introduced ourselves, we made a joke about how we were apparently crazy to be doing this, and to our delight, no one seemed to get the joke.

It validated us that we were following God’s lead here. The amount of encouragement and strengthening we received in those 30 hours is priceless. And having a ridiculously sore butt after 30 hours of sitting is worth it.

We might not get those boys I saw, and I’m finally ok with that. But for whatever reason, God used them to strike that ever-familiar fire under my feet and get me, and Bryan, running. I hope we can provide a forever home for them. We already love them so much. Whatever the case, I pray continually that God will give me a peace about whatever direction His opening and closing of doors leads us.