Friends! HI! Does it feel like forever since we’ve caught up- yet just like yesterday all at once?
I feel a (lotta) bit like I’ve been sucked up into some kind of twisted time warp. On one hand, I feel like so much of our private life has been exposed, laid out on social media for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Asking for help is humbling like that, you must be willing to be SEEN. It’s exciting- because so many of you have done the seeing, done the work of stepping into the mud and muck with us. But, in total transparency, there are moments in this whole process when I have just wanted to hole up in a hide away with all my business neatly put out of everyone’s sight.
Maybe that’s why- on the other hand- I also feel like we (me and the internets) haven’t caught up in forever, that the full story of our journey has been a bit murky and tucked away.
Last week, a friend and faithful follower the French Family journey (so many F’s there.. I’m smitten with alliteration, y’all), reached out to check in on us. We see each other from time to time, following the day-to-day on insta- but she wrote to say she didn’t fully understand the details of our process and was hoping I might be able to fill her in so she could be more intentional and specific as she prayed for us. I can’t fully articulate what her email meant to me other than it always feels good to be remembered, to be prayed for, to be desired for knowing. Her email encouraged me in more ways than one, but my primary take away was that we were far overdue for an adoption update.
First, I’d like to offer a simple apology for the lack of clarity we’ve given. I don’t feel like anyone is upset with us (especially not the friend above), but I do feel like we’ve pulled back from sharing details. Why?
For starters- it’s CONFUSING. It’s hard to make it all make sense in our own heads, so imagine trying to explain it over and over again to people totally outside of the adoption world. I’m not the best storyteller (I ramble, okay?!), so it makes me sweaty to think about having to condense the long of it into the short of it. I guess if you have wanted the 90 minute version (which undoubtedly includes tears) I would have been ready to give it to you.
Also, we are nowhere FINANCIALLY close to where we thought we might be right now. Our first adoption moved insanely and UNUSUALLY fast. We decided we would adopt in March 2015, did our home study in April 2015, announced in late May, fundraised ALL OF OUR MONEY between June and July 2015, went active the first week of August 2015 and were matched with a birth mom just days later. Sellers came home the first week of December of that SAME YEAR. That’s 9 months from start to baby in arms. Lightning, unusual speed.
This time? We started fundraising in May and it’s January of a new year and we still have MILES TO GO. We are only about 1/3 of the way there. PLEASE,PLEASE do not – for one second- sense a lack of gratitude on our part. Every single time someone gives in our direction we are blown away. Not in a superficial, Taylor Swift “no way!” shocked reaction.. but a true HUMBLED, spirit-shaking reaction. The sacrifice and kindness of so many of you IS never and WILL never BE lost on Herschel and I. It’s a kind of love we never knew existed and we are CHANGED because of all of you who have generously walked with us.
But- continuing to say “we aren’t there yet” is hard to get out. Mainly because we aren’t there yet- we aren’t to our babe, our birthmother, the little one we deeply, deeply believe God is calling us to. And? Because we feel a little embarrassed to continue asking for your help in getting us there. We don’t want to be schmoozy or appear like takers happily dependent on your charity. This whole process has taken us outside of any realm of comfort. I am no longer mistaken- discomfort for the sake of call is easy in theory, but it’s hard as hell in practice. So.. I think we have hidden a little bit in our own pain, our own shame so we don’t have face the reality that this journey is far less aesthetically and emotionally pleasing than we’d like it to appear.
I hope you can trust that it’s never, ever been our intention to be vague.. that’s not really our style. It’s just that it’s complex and complicated in ways we aren’t always able to publicly articulate.
With that said, here is our prayerful attempt to clarify where we are:
Basically: We are paperwork ready/cleared to adopt, but not financially ready. We do not have a match yet (no specific “baby” we are waiting on). We are signed (signed=have paid our fees, been approved) with two agencies, and only active (active=birthmothers viewing our profiles) with ONE of them. Confused yet? Here’s more info:
One agency is here in Nashville. It is a small non-profit that does 3-6 infant adoptions per year. For that agency, we are fully funded as they are funded program through a local church and their fees are based on a sliding scale (because they get funds from the specific denomination/church conference). We are active with them and could get a call anytime (you may have seen in recent posts on social media that we have actually gotten 3 calls that have failed- those were from this agency). They don’t do nearly as many matches as our other agency because they are so tiny, so the process is LONG and waits are typically estimated in YEARS.
The second agency, which is the same agency we used for Sellers is a national agency. We are signed with them, cleared and approved for adoption- but we are NOT active with them because we need to raise another $28,000ish dollars. Yes. TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND. Their adoptions range from 30-40k and so we are shooting for a budget of 35k. The reason we are not active is because as soon as a birthmother chooses us, we have to pay ALL OF THAT MONEY WITHIN 24 hours (to complete our contract). This agency is much larger and does 70-100 adoptions per year, so our chance of getting that call is much greater. So, we don’t want to be “active” because we don’t have the money that would be needed to turn over if we got a call and we don’t want to ever turn a birthmother away. So, we have to wait until we have all of the money to activate.
There is a third and fourth agency we have interviewed about potentially being added to their waitlist, but we have paused at this time while we discern what direction to go. Why more than one agency? It means more adoption education for us and more exposure to potential birth families.
Our financial status/needs: First, if you have given to us- your money is holding tight in our adoption account at Wells Fargo. To move forward? We need $28,000 to feel confident activating with the second agency. That’s what we would need to feel confident activating with the additional agencies as well. This would also cover our home study updates and give us the ability to stay active without interruption. (So many of you continue to ask the question “WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE”.. and it’s difficult for us to answer because it’s worth every bit of that to us. The funds- for the most part- are quite necessary for all the parties that are involved in the process. I’d encourage you to read up on this if you feel confused. We have been questioned, more than once - by family members no less- about the amount we were/are raising. It was insuated that we might be falsifying that number – for what reason I’ll never, ever know. We wouldn’t DARE. Ask any other adoptive family about their experience and I promise they can tell you that it’s a risky and financially enormous journey, but it’s worth it. Also, don’t be like that family member. Ever. I cannot even tell you how deeply that hurt us. If you have questions, please do your research.)
Our prayer needs: For an ease to trust. For peace in the mess and chaos of it all. For joy and satisfaction with the beautiful gift God has already given us in Sellers, in each other, in each of you. For the potential birth family we could be matched with (and all mothers and fathers considering placement for their children)- this wait has taught us a great deal about how we can better honor and respect them. For Sellers, that God would prepare his heart for this transition in ways we cannot. For our finances, that God would continue to supply every need and that we would be faithful stewards of every single dime of it.
I hope that answers, more specifically, the questions many of you might be wondering. There are different details that further complicate each process- one of which is that our current home study (done by a local independent agency) is set to expire in March. This means MORE money to update it and keep it current for our agencies standards. We also had to pay money to be signed with each agency, which takes from our overall fundraising efforts.
So many of you have supported our newest side hustle and God dream, The Welcome League (if you don’t know? TheWelcomeLeague.com). THANK YOU! It’s been a neat way to share our journey and our absence has probably had a lot to do with the fact we are pouring ourselves into that project. It is so fun and it’s SO CRAZY to dream about where God might take that. But, just like any “business” (we are still working on all of the official stuff!), they take money to start and maintain. So- we’ve had to take money from our own savings (that might otherwise go towards our adoption expenses) to step into this new opportunity. We aren’t mad about that and we trust that God has gone before. We are choosing to walk in that direction until God says stop.. so for now you can find us chugging along with product designs and social media marketing and shipping and just generally trying to pretend we know what we are doing!
I am so grateful to my friend, for asking the question that challenged the honesty in the words of this post. It’s not easy to give all the details, to let people in- but Herschel and I made a commitment to be transparent with every step of this journey and we needed the push from our friend to live up to it.
While I would have rather told you that it was all rainbows and sunshine over here (though I can’t lie, it’s close.. that little boy under our roof makes my heart BURST. His giggles and wiggles have been the push to joy that we’ve needed on days of doom and gloom), It’s actually quite HARD. I struggle deeply with impatience over the timeline, jealousy over the completed families of others, and don’t even get me started about the million shades of SHAME that I have felt these past few months (I could write a BOOK on it). I won’t pretend with you, ever, that this whole journey hasn’t felt like ripping and tearing. Thankfully, though- that means that old parts of me are dying and the new is grafting and growing.
TRULY, we are walking in hopeful days. What I am learning is that hope doesn’t always spring up in gardens of happiness or come glittered with smiley positivity. At least not for me. Lately, hope happens in the midst of the boxing match I feel like we are in, smacking us right in the face as we fight discouragement and defeat.
I live in my TWL “Hope” sweatshirt these days– sometimes just to remind myself that where we are isn’t where we will always be and that our longing is refining us. I really, really, REALLY believe that the Lord is mindful of us- of you. We are NOT forgotten, even in days and months when it feels absolutely so.
Thank you for consistently showing up for us. For sharing our statuses, for spreading our story, for buying our t-shirts, for showing up at our doorstep with hugs and words and the sweetest gifts like the one below- reminding us that our story is not over and the wait is ALWAYS WORTH IT. It’s going to be worth it all.