Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Still here.

Well. Here we are.  I didn’t really have it in my mind that we would continue to post on this blog after Waverley was gone (those words feel so sick to me). But as I have said before it feels a bit therapeutic to put some of these thoughts down in a more concrete form.  Since I could use all of the therapy I can get we might just keep it going.

Last week we did the things that I dreaded the most.  When I was scared of the worst-case scenario it always included having to pack Waverley’s things.  It included having to tell her that we couldn’t be her parents anymore.  It included dropping her off somewhere knowing I wouldn’t be coming back and listening to the sound of her crying for me from someone else’s arms.  Well last week we did do each of those things.  Pretty much I just wanted to die.

But here we are.  Breathing.  Making it.  Smiling at Harper.  I did some laundry.  Each of these things has felt like a victory.  We have had many moments where we hurt with a heaviness that feels completely unbearable.  We have had some moments where we feel like given the circumstances we are doing pretty well.   We have had a lot of in between.

This morning I was doing okay until we ran into Target for some light bulbs and paper towels.  They had out spring clothes and swimming suits.  Knowing I wouldn’t ever see Wavy in a tiny swimming suit was almost more than I could handle.  That was at 10:00 this morning and I still can’t get those damn swim suits off my mind.  It’s 4:45.

We left my house in good hands and headed to the mountains earlier this week for some peace and healing.  We got here the day before yesterday.  Simple comforts seem sizeable right now.  I am trying to ground myself in the goodness of my huge stack of books that I brought, chocolate covered oreos from an amazing chocolate shop in town, tulips on the table, Harper’s delight at sleeping in a bunk bed, beautiful mountains in panorama, and the occasional green tea latte.

Yesterday I was reading a devotional some moms from Harper’s preschool gave me (people have been amazing to us).  It listed some verses that I looked up, and long story short , my take away was this:

A family verse of ours has always been Joshua 1:9.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

In fact, it was one of the last things I whispered to Wavy before I left her on that awful day. 

Well, the Scripture that grabbed me was Deuteronomy 31:6.  Mostly because I am always moved by Deuteronomy.  Kidding.  But here it is.  It’s the verse that the Joshua verse stems from.  When in Joshua it says, “have I not commanded you?” THIS is the command

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

And although to anyone reading this it might seem like I am having a moment straight from the intro class to Bible 101 it really smacked some peace into me.

I am missing one of my children, but God is not.  He goes with you.  He goes with Waverley.  I might have had to leave her, but He did not.  He never will.  He will not forsake her.  So.  I’m just remembering that.  And breathing.  And trying to hold onto that peace.  That peace feels pretty slippery.  But I know it will get better as we go on.

If you care to walk that road with us we’ll be here.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some final answers

Well. It's been a very long day, and now that we've had a chance to sort through and wrap our minds around what had happened today we'd like to update you all.

Today at 1pm we make what we expected would be our last visit to the Johnson County Courthouse for quite some time. Arriving there brought back all of the nervousness and worry knowing anything could happen. We've said over and over "you can't make this stuff up." There have been so many unexpected things at nearly every turn of this journey. Just when you think you know what's going to happen - when the logical outcome seems so obvious - things get a little crazy. Today was no exception.

Shortly after 1pm things began to unravel rather quickly. The case that was brought against Waverley's birthfather was dismissed quickly and in a matter of minutes the 2 and half year fight was over. As we've reflected on today and how we would break this news we struggled with how much detail to give on what went down. One thing we realized today is just how many people are close to this whose lives have been affected very deeply. It hasn't just been Molly and Waverley and Harper and I. Waverley's birthmother has been affected by this as well as her family, both immediate and extended. To guard everyone involved in this we have to leave out a lot of the details on how this all went down today. What we can say is that our hopes that Waverley would get to be raised by her birthmother are now gone. For a variety of reasons that cannot happen and in this instance at least our justice system has failed miserably. While it has been clear for awhile that we would no longer be Waverley's parents we had hoped so much that the home she would transition into would be one with a mom and a dad and a sister - a home similar to the one she has right now. While we all have differences in the way we go about life, there were some striking and important similarities between our family and her birthmother's. It would have been the best situation for her to transition into.  There is no question now that this will not happen.

So where do we go from here? Well, for once there is a clear and final answer to that question. Several weeks ago Judge Sheppard set in motion a plan that would transition Waverley from our home to her birthfather's. As it has been ordered by the court, we have followed that plan while still holding onto the hope that we would not have to complete it and would be able to transition to the birthmother instead. That transition plan had a start time and also an end time and we are through over half of that plan now. In just 4 days our sweet Waverley will be moving out of our home. Although this date shouldn't come as a surprise, I still find it shocking when I put that in writing. 4 more days. 2 nights of those 4 days she'll be spending an overnight at the birthfather's house. We'll have an opportunity to visit next week and a few days the following week, but she will no longer be living here. That is the new reality.

You all have been so amazing to pray and support us as you have. I know we've said it before, but it has been a bright spot in an otherwise very dark place over the last couple of years. You all have been increasingly faithful as prayers were continuing to go unanswered.  It may not be much consolation, but while our deepest longings and most fervent prayers were not answered, we still believed that God has been faithful in other ways. Through your prayers we feel that God has given us an amazing amount of strength to face all of this. As we look back I still can't believe it that we made it though all of that without completely losing ourselves. God has also used (and is still using) this to refine our faith as well. It'll take some time to unpack all of that and sort through it, but I've already seen ways in which that has been the case.

Now we stand facing the coming grief. We're not sure what that's going to look like or feel like, but it's the next place we must go. If you are able to stick with us a little longer we'd love for you to remember us in your prayers over the next several weeks. Here are some specific ways you can be praying:

For Waverley: Even with the professional transition plan, this is going to rock her world. She will be going into a home where there is no mother. That will make this all the more difficult for her. Pray that she will be safe, that she will feel loved, and that she will make a quick transition into her new environment. We'd also ask that somehow she will feel comforted by God in the moments when she is scared or sad or just missing home.

For Harper: Pray that Harper will continue to be able to understand what is happening. Pray that she will continue to feel secure in her place in our family and that she won't doubt the permanence of that place. Please pray that she will be able to grieve appropriately as she looses her sister whom she so dearly loves. So far she has been handling this very well and very appropriately. Please pray that continues.

For Matt & Molly: Please pray that we will remain close throughout this. That we will be gracious and kind to each other. Pray that even amidst our own grief we might be able to be excellent parents and a comfort to dear Harper. Pray that we would heal from this. It clearly won't be a quick healing, but pray that God will be doing that work.

Waverley's birthfather: Please pray that God will equip him to be a good dad. Being a single parent is unbelievable hard. I'm not sure how people do it. Being a single parent at 22 years old makes that all the more difficult. Pray that he will always be able to provide a safe and loving home for her and that through that she might always feel loved. Pray that she might know God someday in a personal way and have a bright future.

Our families: While Molly, Harper and I grieve there will also be others in our families that will feel this loss deeply. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, close family friends. Pray for their healing as well. Also please pray for Waverley's birthmother and her family. They've been through an incredible amount of pain and could use your prayers as well.

Sorry,  I know that's alot, but I'm realizing as I write that there are a lot of things to be prayed for. Again, if you feel led to keep us in your thoughts and prayers the next few weeks/months we would be so appreciative.

Finally, what will happen now with the blog. Honestly, we don't know yet. We will still be updating it for the next week or two to bring some closure to all of this. There are also a few things we'd like to say in closing about adoption as well. I'm not sure how often we will post, but we'll definitely be here as we walk through the next week or two. After that, who knows. There is something very cathartic about getting this all out in words. Maybe we'll keep posting or move it to a new blog as we reflect on the last couple years and walk the path before us. We'll let you know. For now, we'll keep updating it every few days.

Thank you all again for walking this journey with us and supporting and encouraging us all along the way. We truly are eternally grateful.

Matt & Molly

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another "night before court"

Tonight I feel like there are several different posts that would be appropriate to share. We could share with you the usual "night before court" stuff - What we hope will happen tomorrow, what we expect might happen and all the different ways it could possibly go. We could remind you of all the different ways to pray tomorrow for an outcome that would keep Waverley's best interest in mind. We could share all of that, but we feel like most of you know how to pray for tomorrow.

We could share what it was like to drop Waverley off for her first overnight away from home and in the home of someone she's just gotten to know over the last week or so - the feelings that you have when you show her a room that's been prepared for her in a home that isn't yours. We could try and give you a sense of what it was like to walk away from that house to the car - how long that very short walk was. We could share all of that, but I'm sure you can begin to imagine how heart wrenching that was without us going into the awful details.

We could also share what it was like tonight to get a bitter taste of what the near future holds. A house that is much too quiet. A certain chuckle missing from our night time routine. A gaping hole that's going to be in our family for who knows how long - maybe forever. We could share that and probably will, once it becomes our reality.

There's something different from all of that I'd like to post tonight, though. It's something that's been on my mind since noon today. I've debated with myself all day about posting it, but I'm going to anyway. It'll take a little bit of context to get there, but if you're in a reading mood....

Over two years ago when we began this journey there was something else that was taking root in our lives as well. Several months before we began the adoption process to adopt Waverley we began volunteering at an organization in the inner-city here in Kansas City called The Hope Center (you can read more about it here if you're interested www.hopecenterkc.org).  It was something we felt God calling us to get involved so we decided to volunteer to tutor middle school kids in the inner-city once a week. Working in the inner city has a profound and lasting impact on every part of you. Along with the success stories you see systemic poverty, injustice, and oppression in ways you didn't think existed. When you see it in the lives of kids especially it leaves no part of your life unchanged, especially your own suffering. It doesn't ease the pain of your suffering or make it more palatable, but you see it from a different perspective - a perspective that humbles you. You are able to share in the suffering of others and they in yours in a unique way and there is a depth of comfort from that.

About a year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to take a staff position at The Hope Center. It's been unbelievable difficult and incredibly rewarding. I can't think of anywhere or anything I'd rather be doing with my life right now. As part of our regular schedule our staff takes a break from work at noon each workday and we spend some time in a guided prayer. It's a time to refocus and recalibrate our day. We go through a liturgical type prayer and then read and reflect on a chapter or two from the book of Psalms. This has been an incredibly rich time for me personally as we've struggled through this adoption process. The Psalms are incredibly authentic and are very open about struggling honestly through things with God and still finding Him good and true in the midst of the awful things that happen in this world. The most significant part of this time for me has been a blessing that ends this time each day. Liturgy and definitely become rote and lose much of its meaning or it can be done thoughtfully and become woven deep into your soul - I think it depends on how a person approaches it.  The idea is that, as we recite this blessing together, we are saying it with others in mind - fellow staff, family, those in the community we serve, friends, etc. This part of  has stuck with me and has become embedded in my soul. The longer our personal journey with this adoption goes and the longer our suffering remains the more meaningful this becomes and the more mindful I am of my family as I recite it. Today, I could barely get the words out. I'm not sure where it comes from.

Let nothing disturb you
Nothing frighten you
All things are passing
God never changes
Patient endurance leads to all things
Whom God possesses
In nothing is wanting
Alone God suffices

My hope is that this is a reality for our family, no matter how messy things get or how overwhelming they become, or how bleak the outlook seems. If you're looking to pray something for us as we move into this extremely difficult place, this would about cover it.

Thanks for letting me share this, and thank you as always for your thoughts and prayers for us tomorrow and over the next few weeks. We'll be updating this blog sometime tomorrow once court is over and we're able to sort through everything.


Monday, January 10, 2011

The Definition of Insanity...

...is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So today history repeated itself.  Again.

We went to court expecting to learn who would be given temporary custody of Waverley -- her birthmother or birthfather.  We learned... nothing.

The birthfather's lawyer had the hearing postponed to Monday.  He had twelve days to prepare but decided over the weekend he needed longer.  He emailed back and forth with the jude and was able to arrange that.

So we go back Wednesday at one.  And expect to learn something concrete about our daughter's future.  However, you know what the definition for insanity is.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'm out of titles for posts written on the eve of court :)

Tomorrow there is a custody hearing.  We will be before Judge Foth in the family law division.  Waverley's future will once again be ruled on by a stranger who has never met her.  Tomorrow's outcome dictates whether temporary custody will be granted to Wavy's biological mother or biological father.

I'd like to share a little more about a few things that we have previously held back.  

Immediately after we lost at the supreme court level the adoption agency apprised Wavybel's birthmother of the situation.  She was basically notified that unless she became involved, our failed adoption would result in the birthfather raising Wavy.  The birthmother lived out of state with her husband and 18 month daughter.  Since learning this they have turned their life upside down to do whatever needed to happen to give Wavy the brightest, happiest, safest, most predictable future.  

Wavy's birthmother and daughter have moved back to Kansas to be a part of her life.  The birthmother's husband serves our country in the military and has been traveling back and forth to Kansas as much as the army allows him to.  He is in the process of transferring to a Kansas.  They have spent time with Wavy daily, developing a relationship with her.  They show her love, affection, tenderness, and understanding.  They are willing to sacrifice so much to protect her best interests.

The court has really overlooked the birthmother and her familys' rights.  We hope tomorrow remedies that. While the supreme court ruling ran a smear campaign on her they showed great favor to the birthfather and his rights.  I am not going to say anything here to discredit the birthfather.  I will suffice it to say that we find do not find the birthfather to be able to provide a future for Waverley that is safe, predictable, and secure.  Our position is that the birthmother and her husband have done right by Waverley from the beginning.  They chose adoption when they were not in a place to parent.  They are choosing to parent now because they are the best option for Waverley.  They are amazing people and wonderful parents.  

We have sat at the front of the courtroom for two and a half years while Waverley's life has been discussed and ruled on and picked at.  We have raised a baby since her birth and the courts have demanded that we work with the people that are taking her from us with no regard to the hurt it will cause us or the toll it will take on a little girl to be taken from her mommy and daddy and sister.  We have been forced to sit at a table next to people that take cheap shots and tell lies to win custody of the girl that is ours.  Well tomorrow we don't even get a seat at the front of the room.  We will be sitting at the back, praying with all of our hearts, and hoping on this last day possible, that there will be some justice in this situation, and finally someone will care about what is best for Waverley.  We will pray that she will get to be raised by her birthmother and her family.  Please pray that with us tomorrow.  It's the hope we are holding onto.

Our prayers tomorrow are for:
(for justice, for a family that will love her unconditionally and place her needs first)
Judge Foth 
(wisdom, clear thinking, a heart for Wavy)
The birthmother's lawyer 
(words that speak to the judge, a sharp mind, clear thinking, a great memory for the case law that will be most helpful)
The birthmother and her husband 
(continued strength and love for Waverley)
Matt and I 
(calm hearts and nerves)

So appreciative of you,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Visitation updates

To say that our daily court ordered visitations are hard would be an understatement. While they have been cordial and mostly smooth they have also been one of the hardest things either of us has ever had to do. Having virtual strangers in your home trying to learn how to parent your child, and knowing that you will not be her parent for much longer is almost more than a. person can bear. Doing one of these. visits is difficult enough, but knowing that another one awaits tomorrow and another the next day and another the day after that makes it seem impossible. Honestly, I'm not sure how we've made it this far. Everyday we wonder if we can do this again. Without a doubt your prayers have been a sustaining force in getting us through this leg of the journey.  While we know God has not, thus far, answered our deepest longing to keep Waverley in our home, he has been faithful in giving us strength to endure this and the ability to feel his presence even in the darkest place.  We cannot thank you enough for your prayers this week.

As we've posted on this blog the last few years we've tried to share as much as we felt was possible but have had to hold back some on different details surrounding the legal process. We've wanted to be cautious about sharing that and also have no wanted to overwhelm people with the specifics. We've also found the legal process to be fairly complicated and not nearly as black and white as we would like to think that it is and sharing it can be a daunting task. There's also a fear that sharing some of those details might end up sounding like complaining or whining when the system seems to fail. You can consider the above our disclaimers on what we've decided to share below.  Today, we are going to pull back the curtain a bit. Our hope in sharing more details is that it will give everyone an even clearer picture of the nature of this situation. So, enough disclaimers....

This week we began regular visitations on Monday. As I mentioned above, it has been amazingly hard despite everyone involved acting appropriately. When Wavy woke up Wednesday it was clear that she wasn't feeling well - lots of coughing, fever, etc. Since we had already scheduled an early morning visitation with the birth father we kept that visitation appointment and then made a doctor's appointment for later in the day. After seeing the doctor we were sent to Children's Mercy for a chest x-ray as the doctor was worried she might have pneumonia. About an hour after our visit to Children's Mercy it was confirmed that Wavy did in fact that pneumonia. Our pediatrician made it clear that she was to rest and have no other visitors inside the home other than mom and dad (us) and her sister until she had been fever free for 24 hours. As this developed we contacted our attorney and asked that he propose to the birth father's attorney that we suspend the visitations for a day or two and then resume them once Wavy was fever free (per the doctor's orders). We made it clear that our intent was to continue on with the visitations and just push back the schedule for the 2 days that we missed. We even sent a schedule showing when good visitations times would be. Reasonable stuff when you're considering a child with pneumonia. Here is the response we received from the birthfather's lawyer yesterday evening.

Thanks for letting me know about this development.  I hope Wavy gets better soon.  Whether she “has been diagnosed with pneumonia” as your e-mail says, or merely has been “further evaluat[ed]” for pneumonia, as the doctor’s note says, I can sympathize.  I always get worried when my kiddos show a high fever.

I’m very disappointed in your approach here, however, in terms of unilaterally calling off visitation.  A sick child needs rest, but I don’t understand why [birth father] wouldn’t be able to accommodate that while visiting her.  He could be reading her a book.  He could be making her soup.  In fact, this sickness strikes me as an opportunity [emphasis mine] for her to get to experience [birth father's] ability to care for her when she’s feeling bad – something that should have a lasting effect on their developing relationship.

The doctor's letter also puzzles me, for reasons I will not go into here.  Going forward, however, now that [birth father] has legal custody pursuant to the Court’s order, everyone needs to understand that [birth father] must be kept in the. loop on all medical decisions and all other important custodial decisions.  I don’t want another doctor visit to take place without him having an opportunity to be present.  If there is an emergency, he needs to know right away.

Having said those things, I think we should all be sensitive to the fact that Wavy is sick.  While that may present a reason to change plans, there is no logical or medical reason to keep [birth father] out of the house.  Today has come and gone without a visit, but [birth father] should be allowed at least a short visit tomorrow.  I will leave it to him and the Nagels to work out the best time, which they apparently have been able to do so far without attorney involvement.

I hope Wavy feels better very soon.

Zach Chaffee-McClure

Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P.

2555 Grand Boulevard

Kansas City, MO 64108

(One point of clarification on this. According to several attorneys consulted on this the birthfather does not have legal custody as it is outside of Judge Sheppards authority to order such things. His jurisdiction ended on January 5th according to the Supreme Court mandate. Only the Judge in the paternity case which will be heard on January 10th can make orders of custody. This is what I mean by the legal part of this being complicated and not black and white)

As you can imagine, outrage ensued. I'm not sure how someone can look at this situation and see a child's sickness as an opportunity to bond. The only thing to appropriate to do when your child has pneumonia is to make sure that child gets better and provide all of the comfort, familiarity possible. This is just a sample of things that have gone on the last 2 years. Wavy being seen by one side more or less as property they have a right to, and less as a child that is to be loved and cared for.  This is why we feel it is imperative that Wavy's birthmother be awarded custody on January 10th. While we will no longer be able to provide that loving and caring home, she will. She is an amazing person (her husband too) and cares only for what is best for Wavy. So, while we will resume visitations until ordered differently (which hopefully we will be on the 10th) we ask that you pray for Monday. Pray that this Judge sees clearly what is going on here and is just and places Wavy in the care of her birthmother. 

Thank you for letting us share this with you and thank you all for all that you have done and our doing to support us through this. We'll keep you all updated over the next several days.