Of Fear and False Evidence

Fear is NOTHING but False Evidence Appearing Real...

     So, I just so happened to look at the calendar today and realized the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) court date is rapidly approaching for our Honeybee.  Immediately, my heart did one of those flips that I didn’t appreciate.  I am certainly not a fan of those.  To me, they mean nervousness or fear.   I have to say while I am not a fan of the heart flops, I am a fan of what came to my mind a half second later.  Several months ago, our pastor preached a sermon on Fear.  He used an acronym to remind us that Fear is simply False Evidence Appearing Real.  We see a situation that looks like it has the potential to destroy our dreams, our desires, and/or US and suddenly there is a panic.  We don’t mean to panic, most of the time.  It’s a human reaction.  It’s our flesh.  But in those times, we must remind ourselves that God has charged us to “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the one who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)”. These events and situations come as no surprise to God and He has already made provision for an outcome that is to His glory and for our good.  Psalm 56:3-4 reminds me that “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me? (Psalm 56: 3-4NIV)  The Word of God is absolutely correct.  There are a lot of uncomfortable and undesirable things that can happen in our journey to become Honeybee’s adoptive parents, but even in those occurrences, I truly believe that God is walking with us and will not allow us to fail.

     After I had my moment of “FEAR” and watched it be chased away almost as rapidly, I took another look at the impending date.  On one hand, I am pleased to see the TPR date approaching.  If all goes as expected, we will be one step closer to finalization and our little girl becoming a member or our family forever.  On the other than, I am filled with great compassion for what I know could possibly be the reaction of Honeybee as she grows older.  I was raised by a great-grandmother several states away from my mother and father, who were not together.  I know very well the ache of self-identity as I tried to wrap my head around why it appeared I wasn’t wanted, why there was no father in my life, why my mother’s hugs and kisses were not my constant companion.  I know very well asking what my birth father looked like and being told to look into a mirror.  I also remember very well standing in front of the same mirror and trying to see him within me.  

     I feel so much compassion for those conversations with our Honeybee.  I don’t ever want her to feel some of the emotions that I felt and with the upcoming TPR, I will want her to understand that in this process there have always been a host of people who love her, pray for her, and want her.  But explaining that to her could be heartbreaking as she is older, because I don’t believe any child ever wants to hear they were loved so much they were allowed to be loved by someone else in another home, in another location.  I know how she feels.  I do.  That was my journey.  It ended well for me and I pray the same for her.  There is still another side that remains.  I feel such love, adoration, and respect for Honeybee’ s birth mommy.  This woman truly loves Honeybee.  She does.  She wants to make sure that her Honeybee’s life is full of love and life.  She wants her to have wonderful memories and experiences.  I can’t imagine what she goes through day to day thinking and knowing her daughter is being loved and raised elsewhere, but knowing that the decision is so selfless that it’s sacrifice alone signifies the totality of her love for her babe.  I love her birth mommy so much never having even laid eyes on her.  My prayer is when she sees the documentation announcing the TPR, she knows that we are indeed praying for her and covering her with our love.

     Regardless, we are indeed approaching a milestone in the adoption process for our Honeybee.  With this one event, the momentum of the process will kick start and we will experience an entirely new portion of the adoption puzzle.  I’m looking forward to placing the pieces.


Fundraiser #2 is a GO!!!

What an amazingly awesome and yummy fundraiser!!  Buffalo Wild Wings, 1050 Stafford Marketplace has graciously offered to play host to “Wings n Things 4 Gigi” an adoption fundraiser where 10% of the customers pre-tax total will be donated to our daughter's adoption fund!  Like the fundraiser last weekend, patrons are required to present a flyer to the server in order for it to count.  Meals include CARRYOUT, so you don’t have to sit inside and eat!

Please share this flyer with everyone in your local community, your local office break room, and your local community boards.  We’d love to make this event successful for not only our daughter, but the adoption community at large.  Thanks so much.



Of Ignorance and Held Tongues

I've had a bit of writer's block today.  Well...that's not quite right.  I have had things I've wanted to share, but the words wouldn't flow.  I didn't want to share too much or keep too little.  But, I can definitely say my writer's block is GONE.  Today, I had the unfortunate privilege of listening to the incorrect assumptions and generalizations of adoption and its funding.

I was sitting at my desk during a lunch break and happened to look at a grant application for adoption.  I hadn't applied for this one before and I wanted to see if our family qualified.  If we did, I would have marked the URL for review tonight when I was at home.  It was about this time that I felt someone behind me.  You know the feeling.  The horror movie feeling where the girl has seemingly escaped the bad guy and is hiding from it or him, peering around the corner, and then slowly realizes that someone or something is at her back.  She does the slow over the shoulder glimpse and, shock of the year, there he is!  Well, that's kind of my experience.

I did the slow turn and one of my colleagues is literally standing behind my back peering at my screen.  Fortunately for me the only thing showing was a statement that reminded the viewer that we are charged to care for the widows and the orphans.  No personal information or anything like that, but I was a bit taken back.  And because I was so shocked by this person's presence I said, "oh, just doing a bit of adoption research on the break".  

Now, I recognize that this statement alone opened the door, gave a carte blanche of sorts to discussion, but nothing prepared me for the conversation that followed.  This colleague stated that while he thought it was wonderful that my husband and I were adopting, he felt it absolutely unfair the exorbitant costs that were associated with adoption.  He felt agencies were getting rich of of people like my husband and myself.  Now, I'm listening to him go on and on about how something should be done about the "prices" and feel myself turning all kinds of shades of red (which is difficult as I am an African-American).  I'm getting embarrassed as it is because my colleague speaks with a loud baritone and by now I am certain everyone is listening to his conversation.  I say his because I'm not getting any words in edgewise.  And just as I am about to politely attempt to change the subject, my other colleague who sits in the same general area as I begins talking.  

He agrees with the statement that adoptions cost "way too much" and goes on to say how he feels there should be legislation to regulate the prices.  How it should be based on heart and not funds.  I'm listening to his opinion, respecting him, agreeing with some, disagreeing with others, still not speaking because the two colleagues are speaking to each other now and not to me when one says six words that completely STOPPED any thoughts of joining the conversation....he said "I mean, it's legalized human trafficking".

WHAT?!!! This feeling on pure heat rushed through me and I heard myself offer a rebuttal before I even realized what was coming out of my mouth.  "Adoption is in no way, form, or fashion legalized human trafficking".  He affirmed that it was and that all that was missing was "the forced sex and drugs".  WHAT?!!  So, I politely excused myself to go to the bathroom, made sure to stop by the front desk for stress-relieving chocolate, and left the office for a rare out of office lunch.

The entire way to lunch I was shocked.  I kept playing over and over again what I should have said, what I could have said.  I remember when I started this journey that I was told by close friends who had gone through the adoption process that I would hear all kinds of things from people who just didn't know any better.  Their's wasn't an attempt at malice, but of ignorance.  They simply didn't know.  

Those words were brought to my remembrance and I felt a little better.  But I still felt greatly embarrassed that I didn't say too much to defend.  I did defend our daughter's caseworker as one of the greatest and hard working individuals I've ever known and certainly not the money-grubbing person the colleagues' conversation attempted to make her out to be.  I also defended the agency.  Out agency has been awesome.  There were agencies in the beginning that wanted upwards of $40K.  In our journey, I've seen adoptive families who require a lot more.  Our amount seems paltry in comparison.  [And] I am convinced our agency is truly vested in the best interest of the child, not money or anything else.  I did say that as well.  So, as I replayed these things over in my head, I felt better....but not greatly.

Then, tonight, I sat down and looked up a few scriptures online.  I did some internal searching and re-evaluated the conversations.  I recognize(d) a few things.  

1.  The colleagues weren't trying to be mean or nasty.  They have their own opinions and that's fine.  I can choose to correct some of the incorrect things they believe or not.  I spoke where I felt necessary and I chose to end the conversation by not being a part of it.  They meant no harm and I don't even think they knew I was uncomfortable with the conversation.

2.  I had to self-evaluate.  Why was I so embarrassed?  Was I worried about what they thought about me?  If I was, why?  I am not here to impress anyone and our journey is open to scrutiny.  That's what brings growth and a healthy discussion.  I realized I didn't like the comparison of human trafficking and child purchasing.  I immediately corrected the statement, said what I needed to say in a calm and polite manner, and kept it moving.  People are going to say, do, and think what they want.  Mine is to drop a seed.  Someone else will be provided to water it.

3.  I know both of these colleagues...not intimately, but I have worked with them day in and out for quite some time now.  I know that the heart of their 'argument' was there are a lot of great people in the world who would adopt, but don't see being able to afford it.  They wished there was some legislation that would regulate that.  I've heard others say the same.  It is an interesting topic of debate and having someone who is going through the process likely brings it home for them...especially since we are in the process of  fundraising and grant application.

So, while I was initially hot and taken aback, I'm more comfortable with the fact that I got to home tonight to my family, to my daughter.  I got to look into her eyes as I fed her.  I got to see her smile as we sang.  I am happy, blessed, and so grateful.  This journey has nothing to do with money or anything remotely close to it.  This journey is the journey to our daughter's adoption and I am certainly thankful for it.


Of Birthdays, Of Reflection, Of Praise

So yesterday was my 34th birthday.  Yep.  Thirty-four.  It doesn’t matter how I write it, numerically, phonetically, word sentence…thirty-four just seems like a large number.  I find myself absorbed in the largeness of it, in the grand scheme of all that has been accomplished, and in all that yet remains.
I remember when I was younger, I was obsessed with the “big” birthdays—the milestones.  I couldn’t wait to be 10 because I was double digits.  I couldn’t wait to be 13 because I would be a teenager.  I couldn’t wait to be 18 because I would be “grown” and able to make my own decisions (HA!)  I couldn’t wait until I was 21 because I would be legally able to do any and everything I wanted to do.  I would officially be a woman in my own eyes.  Until I discovered I couldn’t rent a car without extra payment, then I couldn’t wait to be 25 lol and finally couldn’t wait to be 30. 

Funny how we spend a lifetime of waiting to be the next age.  The next big thing.  Until we hit a certain mark and we find ourselves wishing that time would slow down just a little.  A little slower to enjoy flowers or loved ones.  A little slower to enjoy energy and less responsibility.  I mean, one day you wake up and you realize life is something much bigger than a number and if you don’t slow down, you’re going to miss the point of it all.

Today, I chose to walk around with a HUGE smile on my face as I celebrated all the great t hings that God has done for me in 34 years.  I am alive!  I have several very great friends and associates who did not live to see this day and I weep for them in my heart.  Still, I believe wholeheartedly that I will see them again.  I don’t take it for granted that I’m here.  When you lose someone who is as healthy as a horse, with a spirit just as unbreakable, at the tender age of 23, you recognize that time is fleeting.
I have a family!  I grew up an only child.  I remember sitting and wishing for an older sister to protect me from  bullies.  I remember hoping to one day meet a father who would wrap me in his arms and love me and protect me from the world.  When I grew up, I was blessed to receive all of that and more.  I have so many sisters either through blood or marriage that it is ridiculous.  I not only have a great honorary father who loves me as his own, but I have a wonderful relationship with my birth father who dotes on me when given the chance. Add to that, a dynamic praying mother, a tell-it-like-it-is phenomenal honorary mother, awesome spirit-filled and loving in-laws and more nieces, nephews, godchildren, and family that I could ever sneeze at and I am exceedingly blessed.  Now…top all of that with a husband who is truly a man after God’s own heart, a son who is my very heartbeat, and now a soon to be precious princess daughter, and I am more than blessed in all things.

I have a reasonable portion of health!  I wake up every morning and have the activity of my limbs.  I can walk.  I can talk.  I can touch.  I can wave my hands and my tongue is able every morning to say “Thank you, Jesus!”.  I am so happy to be able to look at 34 as so much more than a number. 

Finally….I am loved.  I really am.  I just got a call from my front office.  As I walked outside my office, I see my husband standing in the hallway.  He has a HUGE sheet cake, this beautiful balloon bouquet, and the most perfect card I think I’ve ever received from him.  This is a big deal because my husband doesn’t do birthday deliveries to work.  We usually celebrate our birthdays in private (minus my proposal/surprise party several years ago).  For him to take the time to gather these items, deliver them, and then return home to “prepare” a birthday dinner mean more to me than anything simply because he took his time to do so.
I think I have to summarize my birthday with the words of one of my favorite songs….

I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb
I've had some weary days
And some lonely nights
But when I look around and I think
Things over...all of my good days,
They outweigh my weary days - I won't complain….

God has been good to me
He's been so good to me
Better than you or this old world could ever be
He's been so good, He's been so good to

Happy Birthday to me!!!!!

I'm Getting Nervous...

Can I be honest?  I'm so nervous about the upcoming fundraiser.  I kind of feel funny about that nervousness.  I know God is going to let everything happen the way it should happen, but I still feel the butterflies in the pit of my stomach when I think about this event.  I find myself wondering if people are really going to show up.  I wonder what it means if they don't.  I shouldn't think about it all.  It's just...well...I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can for my daughter.  When she is older, I want to be to show her pictures of all the people who came out and supported her.  Even if they don't purchase or donate a dime, their presence means so much to me.  My husband once said something that made so much sense to me.  He said the best thing you can offer someone is your time.  When you don't have a dime to your name, you can offer your time and it means more than you can ever know.

 I know this to be true.  Before I met, dated, and married my husband, I was a single mother.  There were times that things were difficult.  I wanted to take my son to plays and movies.  There just weren't funds available at the time to do so.  Before I could get sad and sullen, he and I would ride over to the park.  We'd swing, slide, climb jungle gyms, and talk.  We built great memories and today he still mentions those times to me as some of his favorites.  He doesn't mention bikes or toys or books.  He mentions Mommy Son nights and walks, my making his favorite meals and watching TV movies with popcorn.  It is my time that means the most to him and that is what I want so sincerely for our daughter's fundraiser.  I would like people to think this event and this purpose is so important that it is worth their time. But I recognize that my nerves are having fun with me.

I am looking forward to this week of promotion though.  I'm planning on visiting our neighbors, hitting social media, and seeing what happens from there.  One thing is for certain though... I am looking forward to character photos with the mascot.  Stay tuned for that!


Of Like Minds & Experiences

It’s funny how a person can have the most vexing kind of day, the kind of day filled with frustration, and then in the blink of an eye all of that changes.  Yesterday, I was admittedly a bit frazzled.  I was thinking about how rapidly the deadline for Honeybee’s payment was approaching, knowing that God was and is going to work it out, but frustrated at my perceived lack of progress in the support of our daughter.  I recognize now that a lot of that was the trick of the enemy intent on making me focus on the illusion of failure instead of the reality of God, His Grace, and His POWER.  Nevertheless, I was heavy hearted and, in a moment of pure vexation typed the quoted phase “Fundraising Frustrations, adoption”.  Please understand, I didn’t really expect anythingto pop up, maybe a few additional links to grants we have already applied for or ideas we’ve already tried.  What came up was a perfect hit.  I saw staring back at me “Fundraising Frustrations” and the word “adoption” highlighted in the Google query.

Curious, I clicked on the link of a blog entitled “No Distance Too Great”.  Immediately after clicking on the blog, I felt compassion, understanding, and empathy.  But it wasn’t from this blog to me.  It was from me to them.  The blog belongs to a beautiful hearted couple who are also in the process of adoption.  The particular post that was listed in the Google Search showed some of their feelings and physical manifestations of fundraising anxiety that I could relate to.  As I read their post, I felt the frustration of the writer because I was walking through it too.  I wanted to reach out and let them know they weren’t in this alone, that someone else was experiencing the same pains.  I wanted to let them know that the prayers they were praying and the scriptures they were seeking in encouragement were the same that crossed my screen and devotions…But I was afraid.

I didn’t know these people.  They didn’t know me.  I didn’t want them to think I was some weird person coming out of the woodwork.  What would I say?  What if they took it the wrong way?  Maybe I should just leave them alone.  I prayed.  Should I contact?  Again, what would I even begin to write?

Then, I noticed there was a separate link that read “Contact Us”.  In that beautiful page was a phrase “We also appreciate any words of advice or wisdom you could impart on us!”  I thought “okay, Lord” and quickly composed an email that thanked them for sharing the information, let them know that our family was walking through a similar journey and included a blog that contained some great fundraising ideas that have inspired some of the fundraising we’ve been able to use for our daughter.  I also told them about those fundraisers, wished them well, and covered them in prayers.  Finally, I apologized if I caused any inconvenience or offense and pressed send feeling sheepish, but comfortable that God had allowed me to find their blog for a reason.  I honestly didn’t expect to hear anything from them at all.
But I received a response.  It was simple, straight forward, and wonderful.  I read it and smiled as the word “like-minded” appeared in my mind and swelled in my heart.  The email was exactly what I needed and though I was only trying to help, it was I who was helped most of all.

I’m thankful for the blessing of encouragement and the understanding of similar journeys.  I am thankful for a phrase that was given in my head to pull a blog on a site that could have taken me anywhere in the world, but took me to a family of like-minded Christ-loving individuals walking a similar path instead.  For that, I am exceptionally grateful.

For those who are feeling especially generous, please visit the YouCaring site of the wonderful couple who showed such love and compassion to us at http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/every-child-deserves-a-family-/185954.  I'm sure they would appreciate it.

Philippians 2:2-8:  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord to one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (KJV)

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:


Should I or shouldn't I...crowdfund

I came across an older article earlier today that discussed the benefits of crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and YouCaring.  CNN did a good job covering a family raising funds for an international adoption and infertility treatments, and likewise the trend for other prospective adoptive families to do the same.  http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/09/pf/crowdfunding-adoption/

Our family before being our daughter's placement
As with most of the digital stories these days, the comment section was open and opinion was mixed as to the use of the tool.One commentator spoke of her own adoption and thought it was in poor taste for persons to use the tool at all.  To her, it seemed the children were being "bought and paid for" and left a bad taste in her mouth. Others agreed with her, but several did not.  When searching the Internet for current opinions on the use of crowdfunding, I found several links where posters had similar thought processes.  It gave me pause to my own use of crowdfunding and the motivations behind it.

First, I respect the opinion of all of the posters. Certainly, some have closer experiences than others.  But I felt a bit miffed.  My husband and I are currently using the YouCaring website to assist in funding our adoption.  Someone posted that if we cannot afford adoption, we should not do it.  Hmmm...I understand their thought process, but how many people do you know who happen to have 14K for adoption agency fees just sitting in their pockets.  [And] how many children are sitting in the system right now because the fear is adoption is not affordable.

Our adoption agency was very excited to see a young, married, African-American couple as they had several requests for this type of adoptive family.  There is a deficit of them and based on the discussions we have had with our friends and family, money is the primary reason.  So, if my family asks people who feel led to donate so that a child can join our family, I see no issue with that.

However, I recognize that we're new to this and I could be viewing things incorrectly.  So, what do you think?