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.
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoor

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: 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: 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!