Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shopping for children

Twice a month, we log onto to a secure website and shop for children. We see pictures and read bio's. Each child has been assigned a case number and we send the numbers for the children we are interested in to our caseworker, she then forwards that number on to the child's caseworker. At some point a child's caseworker will like us and send us information.

We have done this three times now. It feels strange and hopeful at the same time. Could we be looking at a picture of the child who will turn out to be ours? Most likely no, this is a marathon not a sprint. We will look at the bio's of hundreds of children before we are done. For two people who love kids, this can be upsetting. These kids don't have pretty stories, some have such horrific stories that we can't help but to be teary eyed while reading them. What kind of society allows innocent children to be treated so horribly? Sometimes we just have to skip the story. If we dwell on them all, we will go crazy.

We also have to reign in our emotions when it comes to looking at kids we think might work for us. This is almost impossible. We each have one child who we couldn't help but day dream about. Justin spent a few days mourning over a little girl who loved Princesses, and I spent the past few days sad about a little boy who loves to play with cars. Logically we know we can't dream or become attached at this point, but some of them just slip in and melt your heart.  This can be dangerous as we don't want to be on an constant emotional roller coaster, but I feel like we are doing a good job of checking in with one another and keeping each other grounded.

It is also hard not to find a way to share the stories of the ones we are interested in with our Mom's. Not to call them up and describe each child we put in for, but if we do that than we are making ourselves even more emotionally attached.

Finally, we have to be brutally honest, if a kid has an issue one of can't handle we have to say no. No matter how adorable they are or how much the other one thinks we can try.  I always say no when their is a hint of attachment issues or autism and I feel like a pretty terrible human being when I do that.  Justin's big red flags are mother's who still want to be involved after adoption and extreme developmental delays. He feels terrible too, but we wouldn't be doing anyone a favor by taking on what we can't handle.

I know this sounds clinical, and in a way it is, but it is always amazing. Each time we might see our child, and each time we look we are one step closer to the year mark. Mostly though, it reinforces why we are adopting. These kids need homes. Good homes where they will know love and kindness and basic human decency. I wish more people would open their doors. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The apostle Paul was gnarly guy. He was a MURDERER. He hunted down Christians and killed them. He was a bounty hunter. His heart was filled with anger and pride and selfishness. God had to blind him to get his attention, but in the physical blinding of Paul, I believe God was showing him how blind his way of life was. The old Paul relied on his plan, his idea of what was supposed to happen. Years after he was blinded and reborn to a new sight he wrote to the Phillipians. He closes his letter to them with this:
"I am not saying this because I am in need, I have learned to be content in all circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Phillipians 4:11-13

The guy was in prison when he wrote that. A Roman prison, that is your worst prison image times 1000. He was possibly facing execution. He was certainly beaten and sick, and yet he was content? This situation makes me pause and examine my own life. The dude was content in prison.

Throughout life, we encounter all sorts of prisons. What that prison is changes with time and circumstance, but we are all struggling with a form of a prison. Something we feel stuck or trapped in. A job, a relationship, this economy, it all can start to take the form of a prison. My prison is often jealousy. I am very jealous person. My jealousy at times has been so out of control that it has led me to end relationships or ignore and hurt those I love because I am consumed by envy.

Jealousy is all consuming. Once you give in to it, it is all you can think about. You find every reason that you deserve what you are jealous of. You also justify why you deserve it more than those around you who have it. Who are they? What is God thinking? Those bars wrap around you quickly. Pretty soon you are alone because you have become an angry and bitter person who is afraid to trust or open up to people.

I am jealous of every person who is a mother. I am jealous of people who are pregnant and get to experience that change and growth in their body. I am jealous that these women get to give their husbands the gift of fatherhood and that having children was an easy journey for them. I don't see why all sorts of women get to mothers and I don't, and I certainly can't imagine anyone who deserves to be a father more than Justin. Sometimes I can be very angry about this. I can be angry that other families are chosen to adopt before us. Or that I don't have a magic date that I can tell people that I am going to be a mother. Sometimes this comes from nowhere, I am doing fine and than a mother yells at their child and I am back in my prison cell. Jealousy is ugly and all consuming.

In the midst of our first round of Clomid. My sister got pregnant. She was in the middle of her Master's program, the mother of 13 and 6 year old. She did not want to have a baby. It wasn't in her plan. She had her children. When she told me. I broke as I had never broken before. I sobbed for hours, my husband held me and cried with me and when he couldn't think of what else to do, he called Jill who cried with me too. How was that fair? What was God thinking? He had gotten it wrong. In my Mom's house each of us has a wall of pictures. My sister's are surrounded by their children, but Justin and I sit in the center of a very bare wall. For weeks after my sister told she was pregnant I would look at that wall and feel physically ill. The hatred and anger that consumed me was virulent. It was a cold anger a checked anger. I built a very high wall between us and shut down.

The reality of family is no matter how high a wall you have built, you can't shut out your sister. No matter what happens she is your sister. A sister, I might mention, who was afraid that I would hate her. I can't imagine what it was like to be in her shoes. It must have been just as hard. My niece, Aly, put the first crack in my wall. When they came to visit, I was overwhelmed with how amazing it is to watch this person who I saw be born grow up. I had the privilege of watching she and Gavin come into this world and I love them so much that at times my heart hurts. Was I willing to throw away my relationship with them and my new niece? Could I walk away and live in my prison?

This should be the part where I turned to God and it all got better right away. I did turn to God. I prayed and confessed and moved towards a level of forgiveness that I didn't deserve. I basked in an all forgiving love, but I couldn't go to my niece's birth. It took six months for me to heal enough to see Gabby and honestly there was one moment where it was hard and that prison began to wrap around me again. She is beautiful and has done something wonderful for my sister's entire family and God knew that they needed her.

Paul learned that he had to turn to God for contentment. Even in an actual prison he found peace. I feel that I left my prison behind and I am living in a world of love that I couldn't imagine. However, when I let my guard down and forget to turn to God and trust in him, jealousy can swiftly take over again. This week I have been freaking out about all the ways our adoption can go wrong. Convincing myself that we will never get a child, that no one will choose us. I was angry at the system and the families that are getting children. One little thought and I was headed back down a scary road. Tonight, while crying out all of my fears, my husband asked me what happened to my faith. It was a bit of a spiritual slap in the face, but he was right. I had stopped relying on God for his timing and faith. I wasn't looking to the one who strengthens me and therefore, I felt very weak.

Faith is race that takes patience and if I don't stop to strengthen myself, I will be back in my prison. I am thankful for the peace and hope that I get to experience today. Just tonight, I found that some quality devotional and praise time made me feel stronger. It is amazing what God can do when you let him.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Let me start by saying that I recognize how amazingly blessed I am. I have an incredible life, job, and husband. One of the most amazing blessings of my life is the number of unique women that I have been priveleged to be friends with. These women all contribute to my life in their own special way. Some, Anna or Gabrielle, represent the solid foundation of my adult life. Lisa is my go to friend. In my past I have been blessed to struggle through puberty with Anne, Emily, Haley and Erica,  girls, now women, who left an imprint on my heart that will last a lifetime. Nicole is my childhood. All the women I am friends with bless me in a variety of ways, but none touch my heart like Jill.

This is us a few years ago. We were friends the moment we met. My Mom says that she prayed that God would provide me with a friend to be my light while I wandered in the darkness and that Jill was the answer to that prayer. I am writing about her tonight because we haven't seen eachother in forever and I have so much to share that can be shared in a short phone call or email. I miss her.

When I was in the darkest part of struggling with infertility she pulled me out. My husband tried, he gave it all he had, but infertility is just as painful for men as it is for women. On the worst day, he picked up the phone and called Jill, who dropped all she was doing for her family to sit on the phone and listen to me cry. To speak to me and pull me out. She celebrates my good days and cries with me on the bad.

No one deserves a friend like that, we are simply blessed have them. Tonight I wish I was still in our townhouse in Cloverbrook and I just had to walk across the hall and we would stay up all night laughing and crying and sharing.  I would love to go back and tell my friend what an amazing mother, wife and teacher she would grow up to be.

We met in the fall of 1998 and our friendship has officially hit puberty. I wouldn't change one minute of it. I just wish we lived in the same town. I could really go for some Coldstone and a long talk.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


      My maiden is Lomas, and in my most intimate moments I still refer to myself by it. It isn't that I am not happy to be a Lindemann, I am, but I was a Lomas for 29 years and a large part of my being is grounded in that name. As a historian, I love to trace the geneology of my name. Norton, Lemley, Montgomery, they all blend with Lomas to create my name. I stand on the shoulders of those families. My children will have those names, plus Walters, and several others that are equally important but I can't spell, Puchalic?-the polish names get me every time- they will also bring a seperate heritage with them and all these things will magically knit together to make them who they will be. When I think of my Grandmother riding in car across the country to escape Depression era Mississippi, or my Grandfather working in newspapers, or my parents meeting in the Disneyland hotel I am breathless with wonder at how the small minute things are the ones that change your life.
      My husband's brother, Nick, got married last week. He met his wife and knew she was the one. They married within a month of dating one another. I have never met her, but the sheer sound of wonder and joy in his voice makes me thankful that she has come to bless this man with who has such a sweet heart.  It is in these moments that the "what ifs" can crowd in and confuse you. What if my Mom hadn't found my father charming? What if my Grandmother had married her high school sweetheart and moved back to Mississippi? What if Justin never got in a car and drove to Western?
       My marriage is a miracle of choices. How else would two people born a nation apart find one another in Monmouth, Or. Only God's divine plan could have made this happen, but our finding one another was a result of the thousands of choices that came before us.
        I used to hate the geneology lists in the bible. What was the point? I get it, people begot people. Lately I have to realize what they symbolize. The person in the middle of the geneology list may never know that David is their great great great great grandson, but they made a choice that built to that greatness. The smallest act can build to the greates achievement.
        I do not know why we have chosen to adopt, and at times I am overwhelmed with all the worry and responsibility that parenting presents. I wonder how my child will be able to conect with my roots. Will they consider them their own? Will they blend their father's German stuborness and Polish silliness with my Jewish anger and Scots-Irish humor? How will they blend their own heritage, whatever it may be? And how will I help them know that that that is just as important as ours?
        The strange thing about this journey, is that their are many unknowns. In that regard we are no differant than any other expectant parents. I know that unknowns are to be met with cheerful determination. If those who have come before us had ran from the unknown than we wouldn't be here.

Jim met Marcia and they had Justin.     Mike met Linda and they had Juli Ann.

                              Justin met Juli Ann and they had ?

I can't wait to fill in the question mark.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cloak of Crankiness

I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I love the books and the lessons they hold. I adore the complete and magical world that Rowling has created and I love how magic often comes down to personal choices. For the past three days, I have chosen to cloak myself with crankiness. At least, that is how it feels. I came home from DC tired and stressed out, started class, and caught a cold. Instead of facing these challenges with a grace and paitence, I chose to put on the cloak of crankiness. I wrapped myself in petty anger. I was angry with the people on the road. Annoyed with the people who work at PSU and cranky and short with my husband. 
Crankiness is a choice. It is a choice to embrace petty annoyances and focus on me. The cloak of crankiness and shawl of selfishness are zipped together. I am annoyed and cranky because I am focused on me. I want the world to change or slow down or stop because I am tired and sick and stressed out.
I faced some big convictions related to this this morning. Convictions suck. In the moment were God speaks to your heart and points out the thing getting in the way of your spiritual growth there is a lot of shame. Why can't I be more paitent? Or give my stress up to God? Why am I being shrewish to my hubby when he is the first person I should show paitent love to? Ugh. Moments like this can threaten to make me want to give up. Stamp failure on my forehead, I can't do it.
Not being able to do it is the point. The three days I spent wrapped in the cloak of crankiness were also three days when I didn't do my devotions. I was trying to go through life on my own instead of leaning on God for help and wisdom. Funny how not checking in with God led me to be cranky and selfish. My heart was centered on me instead of God. When I foucus on him, I am aware that this life is about more than me.
Luckily God doesn't see failure, he sees me as I will be on the other side of the struggle. Made perfect by his grace, adoroned in the garment of grace and a true refelction of selfless love. I have my whole life to get there one small step at a time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Deep Thoughts

It has been a busy few weeks! Here are few things I have been thinking about.

1. Having spent a week traveling with 8th graders through DC, Gettysburg and Philly, I am so thankful for my job. It has been a rough year to be an educator. I appreciated the chance to hang out with kids and remember why I became a teacher in the first place. 8th graders are awesome.

2. My husband is amazing, he went along with us to DC and was amazing at helping me manage anxiety and reminding me to relax and have fun.

3. I really want to continue to push myself to reflect amazing love and grace. I struggle with this everyday,  but believe that looking for ways to demonstrate love to everyone I will improve my life in radical and unimagined ways.

4. I really miss my best friend. It is time for a getaway to refresh and rejevunate, oh and sing musicals and Disney songs while laughing about stupid things.

5. I still know all the words to "Push It" by Salt N' Pepa. I had a dance party with some girls during room checks.  I still got it.

6. For two years I have wanted to take my Mom and Mom In Law on a trip to NYC. It is time to stop talking and start planning.

7. I love summer in the Willamette Valley. It is a beautiful place to live.

8. We start our adoption support group on Thursday, I am nervous.

9. I hate living too far away from all of our nieces and nephews and that we are too far to meet my new sister-in-law and celebrate with Nick.

10. I haven't seen my Mom in a week and I really miss her. I am 33, but still hate being away from my Mom. Pretty much I am a baby.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why adoption?

Why adoption? As long as I have known Justin, he has talked about adoption. It is something that he has felt a passion for for a long time. I can't say that I seirously considered it until I started teaching. Facing the reality of children in the foster care system, made me want to adopt. When we became engaged and begin to discuss what we wanted our family to be, adoption was always in the plan. We thought we would have a biological child and adopt a child, and we weren't clear about the order in which we would do that.

We started trying to get pregnant six months after our wedding. I remember thinking I would get pregnant in August so I could have summer break off. At the same time we began to explore adoption. When we took our first adoption classes, they freaked me out. Justin was calm and confident. I was unsure that I was equipped to handle the issues that come with an adopted child. We decided to focus on fertility.

Fertility treatments didn't work for us. The whole time I was undergoing them, they felt wrong. I had bad reactions to the drugs, insurance wouldn't pay, I kept having to go back. Nothing seemed to work out. I started to read a book entitled Hannah's Hope which spoke about the biblical Hannah and her struggle to have a child.

This book was life changing for me. It reminded of all the women of God who had issues having a child, Sara, Hannah, Rebecca. My struggles were not new ones, and I was not going through this painful expierence alone. This book helped me let go of bitterness and selfishness and begin to strive for God's plan instead of mine.

A chapter on adoption led me to look at an adoption website we had once explored. There was a picture of two boys and I couldn't get them off my mind. I kept thinking about how someone had to give these kids a home. In the stillness God pointed out that I should be one of those people. At the same time, we received notice that our adoption classes were about to expire.

We  talked about it and decided to fill out an application to adopt through the State of Oregon. Justin's confidence in the rightness of decision and his desire to adopt have been a solid foundation for me. He just knows its right. I know it is now, but he always knew. I find his confidence amazing.

Our application and homestudy are complete. We are blessed to have an amazing case worker who has been working at DHS for over 30 years and can answer all of our questions. We are in the hardest part of the journey, the waiting. Every two weeks, we go online and look at kids and send the ones we are interested in to our caseworker. She sends our information to the child's caseworker.  When a child's caseworker picks us, we will go before an adoption board. We could be one of three to five families being considered.

This means that we will probably go for the board more than once. Once the board chooses us, we will have seven days to review the child's file and finally commit. At that point the child will be told and transitions will begin.  We are looking at a year or more of looking and are learning paitence.

Despite all of this, adoption feels right in a way that fertility treatments never did. We have a contentment about it. We both came to the conclusion that we would be open to adopting siblings separately and were relieved to hear the other share the same idea. Our child, or children, are out there and we can't wait to meet them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The past two weeks have involved a lot of goodbye's. Being a teacher makes goodbye inevitable. At some point the year is going to end and your students will move on. It is always a bittersweet time, you are proud of them and excited to see what will happen, but at the same time you are invested and don't want to let go. I would say that this year was harder than the others. I had a lot of kids touch my heart.

This is a great example of how what I think isn't the way things should be, turns out to be the best thing possible. In September, I felt an overwhelming sense of panic  at the thought of teaching so many boys. I didn't know how to communicate with boys and their energy was more than I thought I could handle. Fast forward to June, and those same boys have taught me about being a teacher, and even more about being a kind and loving person. My plan would have caused me to miss all of that.

I am reminding myself of that while I pack my room and move to 6th grade, start my admin program and continue to wait on our adoption. My plan is so clear in my mind, but I am letting it go and embracing God's plan, whatever that is. I find it is easier on same days than others, but as a choice it provides me with an assuring peace.

I think about our child all the time, where they are, what they are doing, if they are safe and being treated well. I hope that they feel loved and cared for. I pray that they will love us and want to be a part of family. In my plan, they should be here now. I know they are mine, so why aren't they here?

However, more than my child, they are  God's and I am choosing to have faith in his timing. This is hard, even the best foster mother in the world can't love my child as much as I do. How can I trust them to make the right choices? And yet, I don't have a choice. This is all part of the plan. It sounds strange, but God used a bunch of goofy loveable 14 year old boys to show me that if I let him do his thing, the benefits will be beyond my imagination.

Monday, June 6, 2011

In my Grandma's kitchen

When I think of faith, I think of my Grandma. My mother's mother was a woman of great faith. Born in a recently reconstructed Mississippi, she was the youngest of a large family. The depression brought them to California and a fresh start. It is where my Grandparents met and fell in love. I am their youngest grandchild, a precious spot to be in. When I was little, it was often me and them and even more often, me and my Grandma.

My Grandma taught me all about God's love for me through her love me. She put my desires first, but she still expected me to behave and help. Every night she would sit in her chair and pin her hair up in curls. Than she would write a letter to a family member and pray. She prayed for everyone she knew, but she prayed for her kids and grandkids twice a day everyday. She implored for us, she prayed blessings over us, she prayed for our futures, for our heartaches and our triumphs. She put us in God's hands.

In spite of all her prayer, she worried about everything. Anxiety was her "thorn in the flesh". Her worry would overwhelm her at times and she would cry or share her anxiety. I have often wondered how a woman of such immense faith, who put her family before God each day could be so consumed with worry. Than I realized that when she worried she would also pray, giving her worry to God.

My Grandma loved me enough to pray for my husband and my children, today her prayers surround me and go before me as I move forward. Thinking about those prayers makes me feel as safe and content as I did when she would put me down for a nap and sing "Jesus Loves the Little Children" while rubbing my back.  As a child, she and my Grandpa were my touchstones of safety and happiness.

Their deaths shocked me to the core, they died within six months of one another almost six years ago. I am just now begining to realize what the loss of their constant love meant for my Mother, sisters and I. In some ways, we are still orphans looking for a port.

My Grandma has been on my heart a lot in the past month. I keep thinking of how her prayers, her faith, have laid such a solid foundation for me. I marvel at her ability to look to the future and pray for my husband and children without knowing if she would ever see them.  That is faith. She knew that even when she left this earth, God would still be here with me, and that he would be faithful to the prayers of a woman who pleaded with him.

The other day I walked in on my Mom praying for each of her grandchildren, including my unknown child. She is carrying on the tradition that her mother set for her, and laying a foundation for the next generation or our family. She does this by faith not knowing if she will be around to see the seeds she planted in prayer bloom.

This is an amazing legacy to follow, and I am not old enough or wise enough to be as at peace and faithful as they are. I still want to see the now and am just figuring out how not to demand that God do things my way, it is almost impossible to imagine praying for things I may not see come.  However, I know that if I continue on a path of growth, I will get there. My Grandma prayed for me to be a fierce woman of God and there were many times in my twenties that I would feel bad about her wasted prayer. I did not understand that some prayers are like fine wines and take decades to age to perfection.

I am thankful to be the grandaughter and daughter of such amazing women of faith. I hope to live up to their legacy, but for now I will ponder Hebrews 11:13 "All these people were living in faith when they died, and they did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance..."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Control Freak Comes to Terms

I love to be in control. I crave it. I panic when I am not in charge. Most of my adult life, I have arranged things in order to maintain that precious control. In the past few years, I have been challenged to reliquish control. My journey through infertility has taught me that there are many things, small and large, that are beyond my ability to manage. At first I responded to this challenge with anger and resentment, I deserved to be a mother, I was being cheated, and I would make it happen or take everyone down with me.

It is embarrasing to admit to being so selfish and self serving. My poor husband who spent a year married to that angry and selfish woman. A year wondering why he wasn't enough for me and if I would ever be happy to "just" be married to him.  He held me, cried with me, encouraged me, and best of all, love me right were I was without asking me to change, or even calling me out for being the selfish and petulant woman I was.

It was this incredible love, offered so freely by my amazing husband that reminded that I was blessed with a gift of even more incredible and amazing love. A love that I had rejected and spurned for almost a decade. When I was 18, I became very angry with God because the boy I thought I was supposed to marry became the boy who broke my heart. This was one too many insults for my foolish heart and I decided that if God wasn't going to give me what I wanted that I would go forth and make my way without him.

I set myself up for a tulmotous time of struggle, but even in the midst of blatant rebellion God was with me. He provided with the gift of best friend who would be a voice of reason in the wilderness. Word of his love was whispered in the prayer of my Grandmother and offered as a consolation in the last weeks of my Grandfather's life.  It was demonstrated in the constant and paitent love of my Mother and presented in the plan of my life that unfolded before me.

It took not being able to be a Mother, and the incredible love of my husband, for me to return to a Savior who never left. I am thankful everyday that that boy broke my heart and I was required to wait for my husband.  In the past six months, I have learned that when I sit back and give up control, amazing peace can come. I am once again on the path to motherhood, this time through adoption. I know that whether it takes six months or a lifetime, my child is out there. More importantly I know that there is plan greater and more perfect than anything I could imagine. This blog is my journey through that lesson.

I still struggle with control. Somedays I can give it all up, and others I hold tight to it, afraid to let go. I remind myself of Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans have for you" declares the Lord "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." One little step at a time.