Milo Payton // What’s in a name?

It’s been over six months since our sweet Milo was born. I cannot believe still have much he has grown and all the new things he can do. This age is equally exciting and exhausting for all three of us. Eating solids and learning to roll over have been the big highlights. He is such a happy baby (until he is hungry or tired or bored) and we love him so incredibly much.

Most of you know that during our adoption journey we called our future baby, Baby M. It would have made sense to call him Baby P(eck), but honestly I did not know that was a thing. We chose ‘Baby M’ because both of our baby names (boy/girl) begin with the letter M. It was easier for me to picture and pray for our future baby by giving them a name. We were not sure at the time whether we would be chosen for a baby boy or girl.

So Baby M became the name.

Naming our future child was so important to us. I already was not going to be able to create, carry and birth our child. I did not want to loose another part of motherhood and prayed desperately that our birth mom would allow us that honor.

  

As many of you know, Milo’s birth mom wanted a closed adoption when she chose us. While we were hopeful that she would one day want a relationship with him, we were given the right of naming from the start. I, however, was still terrified of sharing his name. I knew that if she did not like it, then it would be hard to name him Milo.

Milo’s First Snow

Up until Milo’s birth, my communication with his birth mom had been through her mother. I shared his name finally when she asked through email. I was so relieved that they loved the name. Now we had to figure out what his middle name would be.

Boo on Briggs Erie’s Trunk or Treating

I had my short list of names but they all felt wrong. I spent hours looking up middle names that would work well with “Milo” and even thought maybe our original name just would no longer work. And then on a forum I saw someone suggest the name Milo Payton. I knew then that this would be his name.

If you know us well and have spoken to me in person, you will know why this name is so special and so significant. I shared my feelings about the name with Will, who then shared that he had been thinking the same thing all along. Payton had to be the middle name.

This past weekend we went to Utah to visit Milo’s birth mom and her family. Over the past 6 months, both Will and I felt like one visit a year would not be enough for Milo to have a relationship with her. We asked her if she would be willing to see us more, and she said that she had wanted more visits but did not know how to ask.

God was stirring this in all of our hearts, and so we planned a trip on Thanksgiving weekend.

We have not shared personal details, pictures and names on social media to respect Milo’s birth mom’s privacy. This trip was so significant because we grew closer to Milo’s birth family and his birth mom is finally sharing her beautiful story.

This means, with her blessing, we are now able to share her with you all too.

Payton is one of the bravest and most selfless people I have the privilege of knowing and now calling family. She is the reason I get to call myself “mom”. We chose to name Milo after his birth mom because we have the greatest amount of respect and love for her. We want Milo to always know where he came from, and to not doubt for a second that he is so incredibly loved by her.

When we met Payton and her mom for the first time (two weeks before Milo was born), we were terrified. Terrified she would change her mind about us, and terrified that, knowing she wanted a closed adoption, that she would not be okay with us choosing Payton as his middle name.

When we met Payton and her mom, Stephanie, for the first time.

Obviously you know that neither of those fears became realities. She loved that we wanted to use her name, especially since she was so worried he would hate her one day for her decision to place him for adoption. She had also decided that she wanted a semi-open adoption, and we were really excited and hopeful for that.

These past six months, I have shared pictures, videos and updates with her. Payton and I text almost daily and I love that I get to share Milo growing up with her. She has encouraged me and affirmed me as a mother. When I find things hard or think I’m failing as a mother, she responds with grace and kindness.

I cannot wait to share this past weekend with you all. I am in awe by how God has redeemed both our stories and is shaping this journey for us. We are so excited that Milo gets to grow up with two families who love him more than anything.

xoxo Ashley

Mother’s Day // Past, Present & Future

Two years ago, I sat proud during church and told myself it would be the last Mother’s Day I would experience without being a mother. We had just signed and became active with our agency two months earlier, and we were so confident that Baby M would come home that year. It didn’t help that most people we spoke to affirmed our desires to adopt that summer. It also didn’t help that most of our friends were becoming mothers for the first time that spring and summer of waiting. We were so sure that it was our time, and that no one deserved a baby more than us.

Well as you all know, God’s timing didn’t match up with ours.

Looking back over the first year of waiting, I can see how God began preparing us to be parents. All of the things we hadn’t figured out, that were out of our control, God was working out for us.

December 2015

 One year ago, Mother’s Day weekend snuck up on me and affected me more than I could of ever predicted. Most of my friends who were mothers or planned on becoming mothers all had a Mother’s Day brunch together. For the first time, I realized that my journey to motherhood has been almost invisible. It is not acknowledged like the traditional route to parenthood.  I do not have the positive pregnancy test, the gender reveal party, the pre-natal classes or the growing bump to prove my motherhood.

It sent me down a deep dark hole that I could not climb out of for days. For months I had been dealing with our infertility and waiting in such a positive and God-centered way that I could only say was by the grace of God. I would be asked at baby showers and baby birthday parties about how I kept my composure and didn’t break down at my own longing and emptiness. And honestly, my personal struggles and longings have never been impacted by those already blessed with families. Which is why Mother’s Day weekend and my response came as such a shock.

Mother’s Day 2018

This year, as you all know, Mother’s Day holds so much hope and promise for me. Baby M has yet to enter the world, but motherhood is just around the corner. But this Mother’s Day I also feel the loss for our expectant mother, who is making the ultimate sacrifice so that my arms will be full next Mother’s Day, and hers will be empty.

Motherhood, for me, will never look the same as most people. I would love to say that I have fully come to terms with that, but I am still human. Even now, I have to convince myself that I deserve the same things all traditional mothers have, and that even though my journey to motherhood looks different than most, I am no less a mother than them.

This Mother’s Day, thank the women in your life who have shaped you, inspire you, and sacrifice themselves daily for their children. But also think of the women who are still waiting for their baby, who have struggled with their infertility and longing, who have felt the unbearable loss of a child. And think of the men who stand with them on this impossible day, who support and encourage them, and feel the loss just as much.

Happy Mother’s Day

xoxo Ashley

 

2017 – Love & Marriage

Will and I celebrated our 6 Year Wedding Anniversary on July 23, 2017. Everyone warned us about the 7-year itch and that we should prepare ourselves for a hard year. What nobody knew was that we were already in the thick of it. We had been carrying over 4 years of disappointment in not being able to conceive and then struggling to adopt. We also got to a point in our marriage that we realized we had run out of things to share and say. It was not exciting anymore.

Daily life was such a routine and there was no romance. We fought about everything…and not just arguments but full blown shouting matches where we upped the anti with idle threats and hurtful verbal attacks. I just kept praying so hard that I would find something to love about my husband. How do you continue to love someone when you have the hardest time even liking them.

There is nothing more isolating than being in a marriage that is deteriorating. You go from being soulmates to strangers and eventually to enemies. We picked apart everything that the other person did and said. I felt so hopeless and alone. Every conversation we had with each other about our marriage turned into a fight and I was way too proud to talk to anyone about it or seek out counseling.

Looking back now, I said and did some pretty shameful things. I let a lot of my disappointments in my life take root and spoil the good things I had been given. And honestly I could not tell you what has changed. My husband and I are finally coming out of the fog that was the last year. I can say its nothing that either of us has done…but by the grace of God we are picking up the pieces and rebuilding our marriage. But it is not something that can be fixed over night.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
-Mignon McLaughlin

Marriage takes effort and marriage comes with growing pains. Will and I essentially grew up together, but we also grew apart. We are not the same two people who stood together 6 years ago and made our vows. But even though we might have changed, our commitment is constant. We have to work hard to be intentional with each other…to re-learn how to love and support one another. We are not where we were a year ago and we are not where we want to be yet.

Fight for your marriage even when it seems like all hope is lost.

I have been so blessed in who my husband is as a person: loyal, strong-willed, funny, lovable, and highly-skilled. What excites me the most is how amazing he is going to be as a father to our kids.

xoxo Ashley

 

And so it begins…

So back in June we decided on the adoption agency we wanted to use for our first adoption. We started filling out a ton of paperwork, got our fingerprints taken, and even had to get police certificates of good behavior from the UK.

{ then summer got cray cray }

Will’s parents visited from England for almost 3 weeks which was super fun. I know you all are thinking that having your in-laws for three weeks could never be fun, but my MIL and FIL are awesome and I love spending time with them. We went on vacation to Vegas, which was an experience to say the least. My mom and brother (no. 2) came to visit for a week before he headed off to his first year of college (he is sooo grown up). And our really good friend from college stopped over for a flying visit between a trip to Canada and Virginia.

{ then we had some big life changes }

From August until about now, work was absolutely mental (that means crazy for all your non-brits). I have never been so exhausted in my entire life!!!! And on top of that my wonderful and adoring husband got a new job. For the past 18 months Will and I have been working together in the same job, commuting to work in the same car, eating and living together in the same house, and sleeping in the same bed. All of the sudden a huge part of our days were no longer spent together. And let me tell you that was hard to get used to. Most of our friends have always wondered how we worked together and for awhile there I didn’t know how I was going to survive working life without him. Its definitely gotten easier and I am so glad we are still working in the same city because we can have spontaneous lunch dates.

These past few months have been quite the whirlwind for our little family of four (yes my pups are a part of our family). Our friends had recently asked where we were at with the adoption process. And to be perfectly honest, we held off for the last two months because we wanted to be ready. Its a huge step in faith for us and not a decision to be taken lightly. The seriousness and reality of sending in our application and officially starting the process of being approved had weighed on our hearts all summer.

And now, as I am finally coming up for air, we feel settled enough with Will’s new job and income to finally get this adoption process started. Last night I got all the completed paperwork together, wrote out some (hefty) checks, and put together our application to send to the agency. And about 10 minutes ago, I emailed over the paperwork to the agency. (ahhhhh!)

 

If I could articulate how I am feeling right now, I would. I wish you could all get a glimpse into my heart. We are one step closer to holding our baby and forever calling it ours.

Overwhelming Joy
Excitement
Nervousness
Anticipation
Peace
& Longing

Those are just a few words to describe the cornucopia of feelings I am experiencing right now. Stay tuned as we continue what will be one of the greatest adventures of our lives.

Ashley xoxo

 

Hello world!

This past week my husband and I took a huge step in our adoption journey. We decided on an agency and a program. If you know me at all this is huge! I have been researching since before we decided to move to Colorado. And that is what makes this even more exciting.

Back in May 2013, my husband and I started to process and pray about the opportunity to move out to Boulder, Colorado to work for my Dad at CU Boulder. It was then that I started looking into the different adoption agencies and programs that Boulder offered. We had talked a lot about adopting internationally, and more specifically in South America. That was what brought me first to A Family in Bloom Adoption. They had an international adoption program in Nicaragua that really stood out to me.

Fast forward two years….

It took us awhile to find our feet out here in Colorado….to say it was an adjustment is an understatement. But we finally got to a point where we both felt ready to be parents. After doing more research, we decided that an international adoption would not fit with our life stage at this time. We may revisit it in the future but we decided to look around us here and see and fill the need.

We looked into foster-t0-adopt, which is an awesome and much-needed system set in place. I was really excited about going that route. Unfortunately, in Boulder County, you cannot change the name of the child once adopted by you. Now I completely understand why this has been set in place, and I would never force a child to change their name once adopted. However, part of me becoming a mother is being able to choose a name for my child. Will and I have had hours of conversations about the names of our future children. We feel like we already know them each by name and it will be what drives me forward during all the struggles and difficulties we face during this whole process. I have since learned that other counties have different rules (including the right to rename your child) and I think we will definitely explore that option in the future.

So with all that in mind…we decided that for our first adoption we wanted to use an agency who has an infant domestic adoption program. After doing more research on that, I finally came full circle and found myself back at A Family in Bloom Adoption. I had a very honest and genuine talk with her where she was able to explain the fees (which are very reasonable compared to other agencies) and was able to answer my questions completely. Well we decided to meet in person with her and after that we knew this agency would be for us.

I am so excited to to meet little baby (M) whenever we do. Whether it takes 3 months or 3 years we are ready. (S)he is already so loved by us.

Watch out for this mommy in the making! I cannot wait to share more!