2017- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

As I reflect over the past year, I see a lot of new beginnings and wonderful memories. My brother got married to his high-school sweetheart and I gained a gorgeous new sister. We got off of the waiting list and were approved with a new agency. Our hearts were so full with all the friends and family that visited. We went to New York and had the chance at seeing our favorite actor perform in an incredible musical. We went on a cruise with 22 of my family members and explored different parts of the Mexican Riviera.

But 2017 was also a really hard year. 2017 is the year my marriage almost broke down completely. It is the year my health began to deteriorate again. 2017 is the year we thought we would become parents….really really thought we would! Its also the year that friendships changed and ended and we doubted our place here in this small but growing town. 2017 was the year that my integrity was challenged at work. It was also the year that I felt the most isolated and alone.

I was so happy to put 2017 behind me…and naively thought that it would take all of its struggles and hardships with it. But pain does not follow a calendar. And I am finding out that a lot of the issues are still present with me. So to help me process this past year and to bring all of my brokenness out into the light where I can hopefully heal…I am going write.

These are the posts I have been avoiding writing. This is me at my most vulnerable and this is me completely broken.

Over the next few of weeks I will be sharing a couple of posts about the hardships I have endured over the past year. It is going to be messy and show a part of me that most people have not seen. My hope is that by me sharing my story, it will help someone else be brave in sharing theirs.

If this finds you in your brokenness, know that you are not alone and that there is always hope…even when its not visible.

Thank you as always for allowing me to be vulnerable.

xoxo Ashley

 

Waiting…An Adoption Update

This post was written back in September and I am finally sharing it with you all.


https://www.lfsrm.org/will-and-ashley/

I took a little break from sharing our story over the summer. We were officially approved with Lutheran Family Services at the end of May, paid our first two installments and became active on their website. This summer was crazy busy with family and friends visiting from England and traveling to different places for weddings and holidays. I was convinced that we would match and have our baby placed with us during the three weeks that Will’s parents were visiting. Each day passed by and the dream started to feel less possible.

Well here we are in September, I am back at work as a Special Education Teaching Assistant and am way more distracted with my 9-5. We had our book looked at about a month ago. Our book is a 20 page photo album that I created. It covers our story (how we met and fell in love), our families, who we are as a couple, what we love to do and how we think we will parent one day. The book is shown to expectant mothers who are making an adoption plan for their unborn/born baby. The expectant mother chooses the family to place her child with from those books. We worked really hard on our book as it is our only voice and platform to connect with our future birth mom.


View Our Book Here

With our agency, we have set up parameters for what we are comfortable with in regards to matching with our baby. Those parameters deal with drug and alcohol exposure, with age, gender, and disability. We spent time researching and praying before we decided what we were and were not comfortable with, and that was not an easy task. When a potential expectant mother decides to place with our agency, they find the families that fit with her story and situation. They take the photo books of those families and share them with the expectant mother. She then chooses the one she feels would be the best to parent her child.

So our book was looked at in August for the first time. We were not the family that she chose.

With our parameters that we set, we also decided that we would be open to crisis situations. A crisis situation is most likely a situation where the baby has already been born and the mother has decided she wants to place her baby with an adoptive family. In a crisis situation there is usually not a lot of information available about the mother or the baby, and saying “Yes!” to one is a total leap of faith.

We got a call on Wednesday, August 30, about a two-day old baby girl, born to a mother who was incarcerated and had decided to place her baby for adoption. The information was so minimal…they could only really guess how much the baby had be exposed to drugs and alcohol. They were not aware of who the father was and if he would want to parent. We prayed and talked to a friend of ours who is a medical professional, and with all the unknowns we could not stop smiling. We decided to put ourselves forward with 6 other families.

Our social worker told us to get a few things ready just in case we were chosen. She told us to enjoy a night out together and warned us to not get our hopes up because it was not a sure thing.

We went to Babies R Us and bought a carseat and some little premie outfits. We had our last date night eating sushi and gushing about potentially picking up OUR baby the next day! We finished all the projects in the nursery…hanging the curtains…organizing the diapers and swaddles. We were so full of hope.

If only we had guarded our hearts.

After two anxious days of waiting…of checking our emails every other minute…of constantly watching our phones…of getting updates that the mother was delaying her decision…we found out that she chose a different family. I took the news in stride. I prepared myself to emotionally deal with the news in anyway I needed to. What I did not expect was how the news impacted my husband.

He had planned a whole weekend spent with his brand new daughter. He imagined us driving down to the hospital to pick her up. He saw himself waking up early on Saturday to feed her while they watched the rugby. He pictured everything. And one phone call took that all away.

Looking back now, I know that baby was never ours. My husband and I both grieved in different ways and it taught us that adoption is messy and heartbreaking. For us to have a family, we have to destroy another one. That is a reality that I am coming to terms with even now. This journey has not been an easy one…filled with pain, disappointment, doubt and longing. But it has also been one of hope and promise. We trust that our baby will come to us in HIS timing, and are excited to finally one day become parents.

A Year Later…An Adoption Update

This post was written back in February, and only recently have I had the courage to post it. I am trying to be vulnerable and transparent throughout this entire process, and that is not easy. I struggled with the feelings and emotions in this post, but I owe it to myself, Baby M, and those who have committed to stand by us. So here it is:

A year ago we finished all of our paperwork, took adorable adoption portfolio photos, and shared our news with the world about wanting to adopt. So here we are a year later…and not much has changed in regards to our wanting to adopt. We thought we should give you all an update about where we are at and how the past year has gone…So hear it goes…

2016…the year we thought we would add a baby to our family. Well most of you know that did not happen. Our agency, Adoption in Bloom in Boulder, did not have one placement/adoption in 2016. For the first three months that we were approved…I checked my phone and my email constantly. I was so sure that we would be receiving potential matches weekly, if not monthly. But we never received any. After months of silence from our agency I reached out via email. The agency had not been approached by anyone trying to place their baby. I tried to take that as positively as I could. So we waited…

Those first couple of months were incredibly hard. No one wants to know you are adopting…its uncomfortable and a lot of people pity your misfortune. And the longer you wait to adopt, the more they feel sorry for you. Struggling through infertility is incredibly lonely. Waiting to adopt is even lonelier. You watch as all of your friends start having babies. They tell you it won’t be long until you have your own. Except it is long. And its unpredictable. And as hard as you try to be present for their struggles and joys of motherhood, it breaks you down bit by bit. You start to hide your heart away, because the less you feel the easier it is to bear. You love the children in your life and you thank God for the blessings he has bestowed upon your friends and family. But your heart hurts.

 

People around you ask about the adoption plans and how its all going. They don’t ask about the state of your heart, or your marriage, or how the waiting and disappointment affects both. Honestly, you don’t hold it against them. Because infertility and adoption are not the norm. Unless you have experienced either, its not a natural concern. And even when I am at my lowest, and feeling completely and utterly alone, I still have hope. I trust in a God who is bigger than our infertility, who is greater than our longing to be parents. He is working out our story in a way that I can’t even fathom. And I am so excited about what he has in store for us.

365 days later. Where does that leave us?

 

We are no longer with our agency. We felt that their lack of communication and placements were not something we could endure for another year. We went to a foster information meeting in Adams county, and didn’t feel that was our course, yet. So what are our next steps? After researching other local agencies, we decided to go with Lutheran Family Services of Denver. They are transparent with how many adoptions they facilitate annually and do not take on more families than they can support. We are currently on a waiting list with them and are hoping to become active with them in the next couple of months.

Our adoption story has not taken an easy or quick course; but we are not giving up. This past year has been hard, but it has also been a part of our story. We still cannot wait to meet Baby M, whenever that is meant to be.

Thoughts from November

A little something I wrote back in November:img_2211

Spent some time today just sitting in this room…our beautiful nursery. I seem to have avoided this room for the last couple of months. I guess I’ve been busy, preoccupied with other things, or I have learned to see how full and blessed my life is right now. The longing for our Baby M hasn’t subsided, but the feeling that we are lacking, empty, or not whole, has been graciously taken away.

When I think about our future child, which is often, I am reminded about how much time we have to prepare for them. This month marks 9 months of being approved and certified to adopt. Most families have 9 months to prepare for their baby’s arrival. We have been preparing our hearts and our home for much longer. And every day, week, month and year until we are given Baby M means more time for us to become the people, the parents, God has called us to be.

P1190191_edited

I’m taking this season of waiting that we have been given and am using it to grow as a wife, a friend, a daughter, and a coworker. I’m celebrating all the things we get to do everyday before we become parents. Like sleeping in late on Saturday, spontaneous movie theater dates after work, projects around the house (so many projects) and filling up our time with people and things that we love. I’m working on putting my husband first, before myself, because when we become parents I will be tempted to put him last. And I’m searching for the joy and blessings in everything…taking moments to just sit in grace and gratitude.

 

Adoption Announcement Photoshoot

We are coming to the end of our homestudy (post coming soon about our experience) and when it is finalized (the 2nd week of January) we will be eligible to be matched to a birth parent and baby!

 

P1190187_edited

 

It is our plan to send out a “We are hoping to Adopt” Announcement at the start of the year! This is to let our extended family and friends know about our adoption plans and to enable the people in our lives to support us, either through prayer, sharing our story, or financially through donations.

P1190152_edited

 

We are praying for a baby to join this House Full of Pecks in 2016! We know that adoption is hard, that the process can take years, but we are staying positive and praying for God to bring our baby to us this year. That might sound crazy or naive, but we are stepping out in faith and trusting God’s plan for us. And as hopeful as we are for a baby in 2016, we are willing to wait as long as it takes for our baby!

P1190178_edited

 

And what is an adoption announcement without a photoshoot?!?!? I met Kate this past summer when I drove her and a few other high school girls around Erie for the Amazing Race. This is an event for High School students who are part of our Church youth group, which I have been volunteering with since this summer.  It was a really fun afternoon and our team came in 2nd Place! Anyways, I have come to know Kate over this past semester at youth group and discovered she has a love for photography! She is so kind, has a great heart, and I knew she would be perfect to take our photos! And let me tell you what an awesome time we had!

 P1190140_edited

 

Kate made us feel really comfortable and was able to capture us and our personalities so well. She even managed to get a few of the four of us, despite Miss Bennett not co-operating! We would highly recommend her for any and all of your photoshoots and will definitely be using her for our photoshoots in the future! You can see more of her work on her website

P1190191_edited

 

I am currently finishing up our adoption profile book that will be viewed by birth parents for a potential match! This journey has been so beautiful and has taught both of us about not only trusting in the Lord for his provision and timing, but to treasure this time of waiting as he prepares us to be parents. I spoke to someone recently who had adopted through our agency and they said one of the most helpful things I have heard in regards to waiting. It is not a question of “if” we will get a child, but a question of “when” our child will become ours completely.

 

 P1190219_edited

We are also praying for our future birth parents…that they will see how much we already love this child, and how humbled we are to get to partner with them to raise this baby. We pray for strength and courage as they make their adoption plan and for wisdom in choosing. We are two imperfect people, striving to live a life worthy of the children we will be given.

P1190225_edited

Thank you for taking the time to look at our pictures and for following us in our journey. We are so grateful for your prayers and support! If you would like to receive an adoption announcement and to support us in our adoption journey, please connect with me on here or on Facebook.

P1190111_edited

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
-Joshua 1:9

Lately…

So I am gonna be honest….its been awhile since my last post. And that is not because our adoption journey has been delayed in anyway. In fact it is moving along quicker than I had hoped at this point! But I guess I should bring you all up-to-date with a few changes we have experienced recently.

 

Back in August my husband got a new job…and I was left to manage the stores on my own (The UPS Store servicing hall residents at CU Boulder). It was not a great time for him to leave but it was a good move for us as a family. He is working for a small business that relocated to Boulder and is loving it. However, I had to deal with one of the busiest times of the year without him being by my side. But despite all my fears and anxiety about it…I rocked it! I can honestly say it went smoothly and I didn’t cry or lose my cool at all (which is HUGE for me!).

However…the stress and responsibility took a serious toll on my health. If you do not know…I suffer from severe migraines that come on for various reasons. I also have a head condition that makes the changing weather and pressure here in Colorado really difficult for me…like in bed all day can’t do anything difficult. Now…I am not a complainer. I am blessed beyond reason in so many aspects of my life. I don’t even like talking about my health (or lack of sometimes) as I know there are those who have to deal with much more than I do. But I got to a point where I knew I needed to make a few changes to get my health back to functioning.

IMG_8510
My pups looking after me during Thanksgiving break when I was sick.sick.sick

 

 

Before I moved back to America, I used to work as a teaching assistant supporting children with learning difficulties. I have always gone back and forth between becoming a fully-qualified teacher but have realized that I absolutely love working more one-on-one without all the paperwork and stress of running an entire classroom. So I decided that the happiest and healthiest I had been job-wise was working in that capacity. I applied for a ton of teaching assistant (para-educator) jobs and thanks be to God I was invited for an interview at a local elementary school in the town where I live. Well I guess I made a good impression because they hired meand were willing to work with me transitioning from my current job.

{Fast forward 5 weeks}

I LOVE my job! It has taken pretty much the last 5 weeks to really get into the rhythm of the job and to enable my students to get familiar and comfortable with me. It wasn’t easy. I had to deal with quite a few tantrums and chasing students down the hall or around the playground, but I did not give up. And believe it or not…I have only had 2 migraines since starting my new job (thats two migraines in 5 weeks when I was getting migraines 3-4 times per week!!!!!). I have also found a doctor who totally wants to figure out why my body just doesn’t get some things right and that is so awesome!

{Our Adoption Journey}

IMG_8444
Will learning how to swaddle our “baby” at our adoption core training class…He is going to be such a great dad!

 

 

We completed our Core training in November with Adoption Choices of Colorado. What.an.eye.opener. The weekend training (required to adopt in Colorado) was fantastic! Our trainer focused on the differences between open, semi-open, and closed adoptions, what questions to ask when called about a potential match, and what to expect and hospital etiquette when the baby is born. We have always been pretty sure about wanting what is best for our baby first, and then making sure the birth mother is included in a way that is good and healthy for the baby. I would say that we had a few “definites” change to “umm…we are open to discussion” as we were made aware of very possible realities with the birth family and how that can affect the emotional development of our baby. We also were completely naive to the harsh reality that our baby would most likely be subject to alcohol and drugs for any sort of time period, depending on when the birth mother finds out she is pregnant and when she alters her habits for the benefit of the baby.

What was so reassuring was our complete trust in God as we follow our calling to adoption. As much as I would like a stress-free match and placement (including the relationship with the birth mother/family) and as much as my heart desires a happy and healthy baby, I know that this world is broken and imperfect…and our baby will be loved no matter the circumstances that have brought them into this world. We cannot wait to meet our little baby…I feel like we already know them and are just waiting for them to be given to us forever. I imagine seeing their little face…holding their little fingers…counting their tiny toes…and loving them with everything I have to give.

IMG_8506
Loving on my hubby at Friendsgiving…so blessed to have a man to call my own with a huge heart for adoption. Baby (My) we CANNOT wait for you to be ours!

 

So we have decided not to worry about the details…that we will know when we get offered the right match…and we will go into it with open hearts and a desire to do what is best, not only for our baby, but for their birth family. I have no idea what that is going to look like…and frankly thats ok with me. What parent honestly can say they had everything figured out prior to their first baby being born? If you did…please share some of your wisdom!

Baby (M) we cannot wait to be chosen to love, care, and parent you for as long as we are given (hopefully forever). You are already so loved my darling…and your mummy and daddy are longing for you to be home.

large

Ashley xoxo