Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Word of the Year: Receive

(by Bethany)

A few years' back, a friend shared with me the idea to choose a word in January to be your word of the year. It can be a kind of touchstone, something to reflect on for the year, something to strive for, a quality to emulate, and so on. I thought it was a great idea but haven't done it until this year. For some reason, in prayer the word "receive" keeps coming to mind. So I'll just go ahead and claim that word!

Three thoughts come to mind with this word: receiving a child, receiving life moment by moment, and offering back to God all I have received from him.

Receive...not gonna lie, the first thought I had about "receive" was receiving a child. That this would be the year that we at last, at last receive a child into our arms, our home, our hearts. As we know so painfully well, a child isn't something that can be grasped or grabbed or demanded or forced - a child must be received. When I picture "receiving a child," I picture us with arms open and extended, palms up, a soft and welcoming landing pad for a little one who has already been through a lot - saying goodbye to his or her first mom, dealing with all the new scents and sounds and unfamiliarity not only of being born but being away from the person who was his whole environment for the last nine months. A little one in great need of care and warmth and closeness. We will receive our child with tenderness and with our breath held in awe of the amazing gift of new life present in a never-before-seen treasure, a treasure that will grow to call us mom and dad...(this is one of those daydreams so close to the heart that it's almost impossible to look at directly.) We will receive our son or daughter with tears of joy and with a poignant sense of what has led up to this point in our baby's life and that of his first parents. We wait and pray with open arms and open hearts, to receive a little one in God's perfect timing.

Receive...this also brought to mind a quote that has meant a lot to me, from a book that has meant a lot to me: "Interior Freedom" by Fr. Jacques Phillipe. I am overdue to read it again! It has been such a wealth of wisdom, guidance, comfort, and challenge. Anyway - the quote comes a section called "The Present Moment" and here he says:

We have very little hold on the future. Despite all our foresight, plans, and promises, it takes very little to change everything completely. We can't program life in advance, but can only receive it moment by moment.

#micdrop

We can only receive life moment by moment. (One of those "duh" statements that nonetheless is so hard to truly remember!!) We cannot program the future, cannot smooth out all the rough edges of our lives and create the life we want by our own sheer determination. We can only receive life as it comes, the good and the bad together. This is both a challenging and a comforting word for me. Challenging because throughout this 5-year-plus struggle with infertility, I have wanted nothing more than to "program life in advance" and at least have the assurance, somehow, that yes I will be mother. Or - better - just become one already! It is a hard truth that no, actually I do not have control over the future.

But I also find this comforting because it lets me relax, and with the help of God loosen my grip on all of my plans for life and worries about the future. Receiving life moment by moment is more active, I think, then just letting it all wash over you without a thought. I can make a conscious effort - this is at the heart of Fr. Phillipe's book - to say "yes" to what is given me in life, right now, even if it's not exactly what I want, and in doing so I know (from experience) that my teeth get a little less clenched and my hands relax out of their combative fists...and to get back to the business of loving those around me and finding ways to be fruitful.

Finally, receive brings to mind words from the Mass, specifically during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This hit me fresh just the other day. Lifting up the host, the priest says:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received
the bread we offer you...

I've been taught that during Mass when the bread and wine are brought to the altar, we should unite our own offering - ourselves, our prayers, our sufferings - with the bread and wine, to be given to God. I love love love this practice and find it a powerful way to unite my little life and the sufferings the Lord has asked me to bear with Jesus's ultimate sacrifice of love. The words of this prayer remind me that everything is received from the Lord - and everything can be offered back to him. He gives us the very bread that we offer, the wine too is his gift... I'm still thinking through what exactly this means, but I think it is something profound! Something to do with redemptive suffering, and receiving-in-order-to-offer, and receiving life as a gift and other thoughts it is getting too late to put together!

So that's my word. I hope I remember it throughout the year! I'm starting to see/hear it everywhere. If anyone else has chosen a word for the year, I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

While We Wait: December 2016 (Month #12)

Wow, has another month really gone by?? Here we are in a brand new year, with 2016 behind us. In terms of adoption-related stuff, December was probably our "slowest" month to date. We went "live" with Open Door on December 1st, but since then we've had zero adoption activity - other than our usual daily (more than daily) prayers for the gift of a child and for protection over our future child's birthparents. We didn't get any calls or possible situations from either St. Joseph's or from Open Door, and (thank goodness!) we are ALL done with paperwork for quite a while - until either we are matched with a child or summer rolls around again.

Since all of December was either Advent or Christmas, that was what occupied us most this month. For the first time ever in our marriage, we didn't travel over the holidays. While of course we were sad to miss seeing family up in Erie, and miss the great family traditions we love, it also made Christmas very peaceful. And we were happy to welcome both Dan's mom and my parents for parts of Christmas and New Year's weekends. (Plus Penny the adorable dog!)

our tree! (this is the Advent version - we put on more decorations at Christmas)

Some of the particular highlights of December include:

  • Coming home from work on December 6 to find a SECRET St. Nicholas gift on our doorstep!! It was a HUGE bag full of all kinds of goodies from someone in our neighborhood or at least local. What a blessing that was!!
  • Hosting our first big party in our new home. While the numbers were somewhat reduced due to sickness, it was pleasantly snug and very cheerful. We sang Christmas carols, ate lots of great food, drank mulled cider, and read parts of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (our second annual reading). 
  • Attending an Advent concert at the John Paul II Shrine where Dan works - such beautiful music plus hot cocoa and caroling afterwards.
  • Dan turning in the second chapter of his dissertation - woo hoo Dan!! Two out of four means he's halfway there! (whoa-oh, living on a prayer....)
  • Also attending the Handel's Messiah sing-along at the Kennedy Center that is always held on December 23. We went with friends and it was such a riot trying to follow along in the choral parts! The music is so moving and joyful - definitely an amazing way to prepare for Christ's birth.
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Looking back at the month, there were a lot of blessings. Definitely some sadness at another Christmas without a little one in our home - there's not an easy way "around" that... But Jesus is here, Emmanuel, the Child we are all waiting for.

The new year brings a lot of nostalgia too. We had hoped that 2016 would be "the year of our first adoption" - that obviously was not the case. We will keep hoping - the year is fresh and young again! However long it takes to adopt, that's how long it takes to meet the child meant for our family and vice versa. We are so grateful for the prayers and support of so many friends and family this year - it really means a lot!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

While We Wait: November 2016 (Month #11)

Adoption related stuff:

Okay, technically this happened December 1st, but close enough! The big recent news is that we are now officially in a second "pool" for waiting parents - yayyyy! Open Door adoption agency gave us the green light on December 1st that we are now an "active" waiting family with them, meaning that they can show our profile book to any expectant moms who might be interested in a family like ours. We're really happy about this, and also relieved that for the time being paperwork is DONE!!!

We have an online profile with Open Door, here: http://www.opendooradoption.org/daniel-and-bethany. Screenshot:



It's similar to our printed profile book, but with a few less pictures. There might be more text though (there's a lot more than what shows up with the screen shot). As with the hard-copy book, it was tough to decide on which pictures to show, and what to say! This part of the process has felt very vulnerable to us, having to show who we are to a prospective birth parent through "static" pictures and text - what pictures to choose? who should be in them? close-ups? formal? and so on. Writing up our story really puts ourselves out there, too. We've become pretty comfortable talking about our hope to adopt, our struggle with infertility, etc., but it still feels a little scary to be so open! We have to keep reminding ourselves: it's not about being perfect (whatever that means) but about being the best fit for someone who chooses us to raise their child (what an awesome responsibility!).

So what happens now? We keep waiting! (naturally) We are still working with St. Joseph's, our original placement agency, but could now receive calls from Open Door as well. There's nothing left to "do" at this point from our end in terms of paperwork or preparations. For the first time in a while, it looks like we really will be just waiting, living our lives while we wait and see when and where our adoption will happen.

Speaking of waiting, a friend of ours from grad school wrote a beautiful reflection on waiting that we wanted to share: https://blessedisshe.net/the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year-2/. The line that really jumped out at us was  "I’ve come to view waiting not as something to breeze through as quickly as humanly possible, but as something to be embraced and be transformed by."



That is our prayer, too! That this time of waiting (which from a human perspective feels longer every day) will not be just a holding pattern or a "blank" time, or something we rush through as quickly as possible (not that we have much control over that) but a time that transforms us by the grace of God to be the people - and hopefully one day the parents - that he has called us to be.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Other Stuff We Did:

We were cultured this month! Bethany went to see Mary Poppins at a local theater with a dear friend whose sister was in the show. Then we both went to the Symphony thanks to free tickets through Dan's PhD program. And finally for Bethany's birthday, Dan took her to see the Nutcracker, which was playing just a few minutes from our house.

Bethany travelled to Baltimore for an annual work trip and Dan joined her for a few days. Despite being a work trip, this one always has some lovely moments of time spent with coworkers "off the clock" and time for sightseeing.

View of the harbor from the 37th floor of the World Trade Center


Dan took the helm!
We also travelled to Pennsylvania to visit Bethany's family over Thanksgiving. We got TWO big Thanksgiving-day meals, one at a big extended family reunion, and one at Bethany's childhood home. We also saw a movie together ("Arrival" - excellent), did a family craft (making evergreen baskets), watched a lot of football (let's not talk about that) and just enjoyed relaxing with mom, dad, and their hyperactive dog Penny.

Pre-food coma

Penny did not contribute to this project
Finally, Bethany had a birthday! This year it was on the first Sunday of Advent, which was delightful. We got our home ready for this beautiful season of joy, peace, and WAITING (perhaps the Lord would like to teach us something new about this!). And Dan made Bethany's birthday SO special: breakfast out at a lovely local cafe, the Nutcracker in the afternoon, and a homemade dinner at night plus the world's smallest birthday cake (which was fine with her after eating so many sweets during Thanksgiving!).

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

All two bites were delicious
We hope you had a lovely November, Thanksgiving, and a blessed start to Advent!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Giving Tuesday Give the Gift of a Loving, Stable Home

Hello all,

We thought we would encourage you on this Giving Tuesday to give to an adoption cause! Do you know of a couple in need of adoption assistance? Do you know an adoption agency who could use a donation? Then, we would encourage you to give to the beautiful cause of adoption. But above all, give to those in the middle of the adoption process, like us, the gift of your prayers. It is tough to wait, go through the ups and downs of the different cases, and sometimes to not be considered or rejected for cases. We know all about this now, so please bring some cheer to those adoptive parents or good adoption agencies by offering a small gift to them on this day all about giving! God bless!
Image result for giving tuesday logo

Sunday, November 6, 2016

While We Wait: October 2016 (Month #10)

Adoption related stuff:

We made some forward progress in October! To be honest, though, generally our adoption pilgrimage has felt like the joke in the Family Circus cartoons, where Billy takes the most circuitous route possible to accomplish a straight-forward task...


Image result for family circus dotted line
(link if the picture doesn't show up)

Not that adoption is every really "straight-forward" - but this round-about, detour-filled, will-we-ever-reach-the-finish-line image resonates with us!

Back to the forward progress though: praise God, Dan's CPS clearance form was finally located, processed, sent back to our agency, and we are once again home study approved! (Oct. 11) Awesome good news that we were grateful to receive. The home study is current for one year, FYI.

Because of our home study being active, we were able to pursue our plan of signing up with an additional placement agency to help us find our child. The agency we settled on, after much prayer and discussion, is An Open Door, in Georgia. They were highly recommended by our home study agency, Barker, and all of our interactions with them have been great: responsive, clear, and helpful. A few reasons why we chose them are: they directly work with the expectant parents who are considering adoption, which means that we will get the most accurate and complete information possible about a potential match; they have a cap for their fees + birthparent and legal fees, which for us means that we do not put money "at risk" in the event of a match or placement that falls through; they have multiple locations around Georgia (we had to send them 20 copies of our profile book); and their agency is fairly active, which could mean a shorter waiting time from this point forward.

It's another leap of faith, another "yes" to where we believe God is calling us, but expanding our "reach" in this way brings us a lot of hope!

We have a few things left before being totally active with Open Door: six references have to send them back a reference questionnaire, and we have to send them pictures and text to put on their website ("waiting couples"). So here's hoping that works out quickly!

Also, in a really unexpected adoption moment, Dan won $500 at a local shopping center's grand opening! He had to take a picture with a concrete turtle (it's a long story) and his name was selected. A little boost to our adoption budget!

Dan & Tommy


Other Stuff We Did

October was pretty fun! The Fall colors are just starting to show here in our neck of the woods, and we enjoyed two weekend trips: one to Erie to visit Dan's family, and one to Rochester to become godparents to our dear little godson Theo.


Speaking of godchildren - good friends came to visit for a weekend in October (including our goddaughter and Bethany's godson). We had a blast going to the zoo on a beautiful Fall day, making our traditional big pancake breakfast, and going to Annapolis to watch the boats. It is such a blessing to be with great friends!




Dan had a BIG event at his job (St. John Paul II Shrine) on JPII's feast day, Oct. 22. Bethany's parents came down for it, which was really fun. It was an all-day celebration of this great saint's life with speakers, music, a beautiful Mass, adoration, etc. It was a lovely day for us and a great cap to the novena we had been saying for JPII's intercession.

JPII, we love you!
Finally - we had our first Halloween in our new house! Bethany in particularly was really excited to hand out candy. At our last house, we didn't get many trick or treaters because we were on a busy road with no sidewalk. This time we had plenty! It was fun to sit on our porch with some hot tea and enjoy all the kids' costumes. Although our neighbors across the street really outdid us with decorations....we will need to remedy that next year.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Novena to St. John Paul II for our Adoption

St. John Paul II has long been an important person in our lives. Dan saw him in Toronto for a World Youth Day event that was very impactful, and Bethany's encounter with his teachings on the theology of the body in college were a big part of what drew her to the Catholic faith. And of course, we met at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family!

Aww.......where it all began

On our honeymoon in Rome, which took place shortly after JPII was beatified, we prayed together at his tomb in St. Peter's Church. On his feast day last year, Bethany was in Rome for work and visited his tomb again, this time officially of Saint John Paul II. And now Dan works for the St. John Paul II Shrine!

Dan giving a good friend of ours a tour of the mosaics

Seriously, it's like he's following us! :) ....or I guess we're following him?

We have both been very touched by his writings on the dignity of the human person, love, sexuality, marriage, freedom, man's purpose in life, and so much more. These have formed and shaped our faith, our sense of self, our relationship with each other, and so much more. "Be not afraid" .... "Man cannot live without love" ... and so many other phrases are deep in our our hearts.

So, with that as a preface, we want to invite you to pray with us a novena to St. John Paul II for our adoption! It begins Oct. 14 (yesterday - sorry!) and ends on his feast day, Oct. 22. Shameless plug: for folks near DC, come celebrate his feast day at the JPII Shrine!

Here is the full novena, and Bethany is also posting each day's prayers on Facebook:

Pray for us!

Day One – October 14 

Reflection by Saint John Paul II: “It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream if happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted . . .”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Two –  October 15 

Reflection by Saint John Paul II: “Darkness can only be scattered by light. Hatred can only be conquered by love. My most fervent wish, which I entrust to God in prayer . . . is that we should all carry in our unarmed hands the light of a love which nothing can discourage.”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Three – October 16 

Reflection by Saint John Paul II: “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid.”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Four – October 17

Reflection by Saint John Paull II: “Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! It is in commitment to the Church’s universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support.”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Five – October 18 

Reflection by Saint John Paull II: “As we ask for forgiveness, let us also forgive. This is what we say every day when we recite the prayer Jesus taught us: ‘Our Father . . . forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Six – October 19 

Reflection by Saint John Paul II: “The Good News which she received from her divine Founder obliges the Church to proclaim the message of salvation and human dignity and to condemn injustices and attacks on human dignity.”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Seven – Monday, October 20

Reflection by Saint John Paul II: “Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the ‘light of the world.’”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Eight – October 21 

Reflection by Saint John Paull II: “Thus the great gift of redemption – our being ‘brought forth’ to divine life – is a mighty work of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It must be received by us in faith. It must be lived. It must be proclaimed.”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Nine – October 22 

Reflection by Saint John Paull II: “The pilgrim Church on earth lifts its gaze to Heaven and exultantly joins the choir of those with whom God shares his glory. It is the communion of saints!”

Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, October 3, 2016

While We Wait: September 2016 (Month #9)

Adoption related stuff:

In September we had two important moments toward getting our home study updated. First was our social worker visit on September 7. We love our social worker!! She is kind, thoughtful, knowledgeable and thorough - basically everything you would want in someone who is playing such an important role in your family's future. We were so excited to show her our new house! The interview was pretty basic, mostly focused on what has happened since we met with her last year, what things have changed, how are we doing, etc. Then a quick walk through of the house, and that's it. Very straight forward and honestly kind of fun.

The fire inspection for our new house took place September 20, and we passed. BUT it was a bit of an ordeal for Dan, who stayed home for it. As part of the inspection, he had to completely remove the window from our guest room - both top and bottom panes - to show the inspector that he could. The inspector almost didn't pass him because he didn't remove it quickly enough....but thankfully had a change of heart and just stamped on the form something about "shall practice removing window" (there is an actual stamp for that directive!)

We are STILL waiting for Dan's CPS form to clear. The county claims that they never received Dan's first form (even though it was sent in the same envelope as Bethany's, which cleared shortly thereafter) and the second form is currently MIA as well. Our wonderful adoption worker is doing her best to track down the CPS form, while also trying to stay on the county employees' good side. At this point, it's not a huge deal because we don't have any pending situations that are getting held up by this last form getting approved....but it would be nice to wrap up the paperwork so our home study is officially approved.

This month we had some long discussions about whether we wanted to join an additional adoption pool, and if so with which agency. Basically this would give us increased exposure to other women (and men) who are thinking about placing their child for adoption, which in turn could lead to a placement for us sooner rather than later. As an example of how complicated adoption can be, these were the kind of scenarios we had to compare in choosing an additional agency:

  • Agency A works in states where we have family and friends, and we know people who have adopted successfully from them, and they do active advertising to connect with possible birthparents...but they have a hefty up-front fee to join, work in some states that have higher legal fees because of the laws about terminating parental rights, and have some more hoops to jump through than other agencies
  • Agency B is in a state further away from us, where we don't know anyone, and has the highest overall fees...but their fee structure is all-inclusive and doesn't risk any of our money in case a situation falls through, and they are currently seeking adoptive families and will not charge us to join their pool
  • Agency C is local to us, meaning minimal travel expenses and possibly no fees for adopting out of state, and we trust their methods wholeheartedly and know they provide a lot of support for the birthparents...but their wait time is long and many placements are last-minute, meaning that they often present the families who have been waiting the longest
....and so on. Our point is that with adoption, there are always a million and one decisions beyond the initial "let's adopt" decision. While there are some deal-breakers when it comes to choosing an agency (like, do they treat birthparents with respect and are they transparent about their fees and procedures), we've found that usually there are several good-enough options and at the end of the day you just have to bite the bullet and choose one.

So we did choose one that we will be applying to in order to expand our "reach" so to speak, but we'll write more about that after sending in our application, which we plan to do in October.

The last adoption-related update is just to be real about how challenging the wait can be some days! For us, we've been waiting to become parents for over five years now, which is a decent amount of time (although we are always conscious of those who have been waiting longer). It often happens that the frustrations associated with the adoption process are compounded by our sadness about infertility and our continued childlessness. Friends of ours, who are adoptive parents, told us recently that the wait before their first child was much harder than the wait for the second, because of course then they were parents already. While we haven't gotten over the hump of parenthood yet, that rings true to us, absolutely - some days are easier and some days are harder but each and every day we are praying for our child to find our family, and often it is easy to get discouraged by how long it is taking. Of course we are happy to be on this adoption pilgrimage - but just wanted to be honest here!

Other stuff we did:

Football season started! We are Notre Dame fans (Bethany was introduced by Dan, who grew up watching ND as a kid with his grandpa). ......let's not talk about the catastrophic nose dive this season has taken.....but there were high hopes on the first day, and even when they lose it's a fun thing to do together!

Dan with the flag Bethany let him buy for the front of our house
We also had a fun time at a friend's Oktoberfest (which to our surprise is actually celebrated in September!)

"Drink, drink drink" was the refrain (more or less) in German of a song we all sang
In September we also spent a fair amount of time helping an elderly friend of ours who was in the hospital for a while. She does not have family to take care of her, so we have been honored to step in and help as needed to make sure she gets the care she needs.

And overall we're just trying to enjoy our lives, our friends, our new neighborhood and parish, and keep on keepin' on!