Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When we started this journey several years ago we could have never imagined that this is where it would take us. Our hope and our prayers were always that it would be a fairly normal adoption journey. All we were wanting was to be parents to another daughter – Waverley. As you know, though, our journey has been anything but normal. We’ve had to endure more than any adoptive family should have to endure, and that’s how we ended up where we did today – in front of a Kansas House Judiciary Committee – to play whatever part we can to ensure that another family does not have to walk where we have walked. We weren’t the only family there today either. There was another mom and dad that just 2 months ago said goodbye to a daughter they had raised for nearly 2 years. While not exactly like our case, their case was very similar and their family fell victim to the same vague law and same poor judgment of the courts. Like us, they too lost their daughter of nearly 2 years. After hearing their story we are even more convinced that changes need to be made in the Kansas adoption law. Changes that would bring clarity to the adoption statute and prevent cases like ours and this other couples from happening.

Today brought some very unwelcome familiarity into our world. Not only did we have to agonize through our story again for our testimony, but we had to dress in “court clothes” again, make a familiar drive to Topeka, strategize with attorney’s ahead of time about what was coming and what we could expect, and sat in silence again with a familiar nervous feeling. The exact things we did nearly every time we had to go to court for our case. Only this time we actually got to speak. We got to stand before a group of men and women who write the laws in our state and share our story. We got to tell them that her name is Waverley and not Baby Girl P. They had a chance to see how the current law affects adoptive families and specifically how it affects the children involved. They’ve now heard how the courts are interpreting the current adoption law and what that interpretation looks like in the lives of real people. We’re thankful for that and hopeful that our story will stick with this committee as they deliberate this bill and decide what it should look like moving forward. We’re also very thankful that today is over. It was good, but hard and emotional and tiring. It wasn’t without its little graces here and there. As she always does, Harper had some very funny 5 year old things to say as we ended our day. Our day actually ended with laughter and a reminder of how much God has given us in Harper.

We’re also so very thankful for all of your prayers and kind words today. We read your blog comments, texts and facebook comments all the way to Topeka. They were so comforting and encouraging and a wonderful reminder us that we’ve never been in this alone.

Reliving the Past -- Before an Audience

Today we are going to be testifying before a subcommittee of the Kansas House of Representatives.  A group of lawyers is trying to make some changes to adoption law before the current session ends.  We have known this might be coming for awhile but just found out on Thursday that we would be going to Topeka to speak four days later.  Sunday we had to write out our story from beginning to end.  Today we will share that story in a room that we were told would be quite large and full of people.  

This is dredging up all of the emotions I have had each time we've gone to court.  I get that it's a totally different situation -- we are not going to be in a room with anyone who is opposing us.  A judge won't rule.  The stakes are the the law, not our child.  Still though, my palms are already sweaty, I haven't been sleeping, my stomach is in knots, and my body is going, "oh yeah.  I know all about this feeling."

I hope it's worth it.  I hope our being there is helpful.  I'm feeling super freaked out.

The changes being presented are clearer language and more specific expectations when it comes to the support a birth father has to show to maintain his rights and what happens to a birth mother's relinquished rights if an adoption fails -- with the intention that her relinquishment would be nullified if the adoption failed (basically giving her the option to have her rights back at that point if she so desired).  None of these things would prevent a child from being removed from their adoptive family, but it would make the process less muddy.  It would give judges less room for their own interpretation or mood that day (as we felt we experienced).  It would help all parties move more quickly through the decisions instead of living through the agony of such a drawn out process.  

So I am trying to calm my heart.  I am reading Psalm 23 over and over again.  I am also working on incorporating into my testimony a dramatic moment where I can lean forward and yell, "You want the truth?  You can't handle the truth!' Because that seems a more obtainable goal than trying to calmly tell my story to a room of straight-faced strangers.  

Well, I am off to try to find an outfit that communicates that I am a caring and devoted mother who has the credibility and intellectual wherewithal to be an advocate for positive change for adoption.  I'm convinced that with just the right tasteful dress/cardigan combo they'll intuit all of that in just one glance.  

If anyone reads this before 3:30 today I would be so grateful for any prayers at that time.  Or any time really.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

After A Year

This past year has been so hard. Harder than we could have imagined. I still remember every detail about the day I said goodbye to Waverley (and I know that Molly does as well). What the weather was like, what the last thing I said to her was, how the last hug I gave her felt. I remember walking to the car with Harper, worried how she was doing – how she would do. I remember sitting there - knowing that this was it. Barring some crazy miracle, this would be the last time I would see Waverley. The last image I have of her is her standing at the front door of her birthfather’s house, arms crossed, looking out of the glass storm door. I used to play this game with Waverley right around when she was turning 2 and sassy. She would cross her arms in defiance of whatever we were telling her and I would then immediately reach over and uncross her arms and she would immediately break into her signature chuckle-laugh and then do whatever it was she had been refusing to do.  By the time January 28, 2011 came I had known for awhile that we would have to say goodbye to her, but seeing her at that door with her arms crossed knowing that I’d never get to play that game with her again and hear her laugh…that’s when I think the reality of it finally and completely set in for me.

That vivid moment has been with me constantly this whole year along with many others. But those moments have been especially present lately as we have, in different ways, relived what we lived through a year ago. December 24th through today have been the most difficult days we’ve seen this year. Molly and I have both felt it and it affects every part of our every day, and while we’ve wanted to update this blog so many different times the last few weeks, we’ve found that neither of us have had the wherewithal to do so. Whenever people talked about the stages of grief I always thought of those stages being linear, that one came after another until you had moved through the grief and found healing. I’m sure healing does come, at least partially, but grief is anything but linear and come more like waves with small peaks and huge valleys. Right now, we’re in a valley. We won’t always be and there is some comfort in that – in knowing that there will be better days ahead – but in the valleys, we just survive. In these times it’s difficult to see that God is at work or that He’s there at all. It seems like just when all I can see is the disappointment of our unanswered prayer - He reveals something. Most of the time it’s something small and it always feels unexpected. There have been a few of those moments the last few months. A few weeks ago I was looking back over some of the posts we wrote at this time last year. I’m not really sure why. Maybe I wanted to remember, maybe I was hoping to see something that would make me think “we’re doing so much better now than we were then”. Who knows. What I did read that ended up resonating with me was a post we wrote on January 12th (my birthday no less – Happy Birthday, me) updating everyone on where we were with transitioning Waverley out of our home and asking for specific prayer requests. Now, I have no idea whether God has answered the prayers we asked people to pray for Waverley or her birthfather. What was abundantly clear, though, is that he’s been answering the prayers we asked people to pray for Molly and I and Harper. As hard as this year has been, Harper has done amazingly well. I’m amazed that her 5 year old mind understands what happened with her sister. She grieves appropriately and she misses her sister, but she feels secure in our family and had grown leaps and bounds in so many areas. You would never know she lost her sister, her best friend, unless she told you. Molly and I, for as hard as this has been have remained close. We have been kind and gracious to each other and have somehow managed to parent Harper well through all of this.

There have been these moments in the valleys. Not as much as we’d like, but enough. These moments don’t alleviate our grief, but what they do is give us hope. It’s a reminder that He is still here, that he still cares, that he is unfailing in his love and that he is a redeemer and a restorer of all things. How will he redeem all of this? How will he restore us individually and as a family? I have no idea. Not a clue. But I know that He will. Somehow. Someday. And I’m thankful that even in the valleys He finds ways to remind us that he hasn’t forgotten.