Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I almost forgot....

Today marks 7 months on the Ethiopia Wait List....between work, the holidays, Jackson's upcoming arrival, it just slipped my mind.

It's not that I don't think of our Ethiopian adoption. My heart yearns to go to Ethiopia NOW. I have fallen in love with a country that I have never stepped foot in. I can't imagine our family without Ethiopian children. My heart hurts when I let my mind wonder to that place of uncertainty - what if we wait and wait and wait and never get on the plane to get our babies in Africa. It's international adoption. You just never know what's going to happen. Our agency has handed out a few referrals the past week or so, so that gives us hope. International adoption (all adoption) is a roller coaster of emotions. One day there's good news. One day there's slow downs. It's up and down, high and low.
I am feeling a hodge podge of those emotions this week as we wait on the call from our birth mom. The call that she is on the way to the hospital. I make sure the ringer on my phone is turned up at night so that I don't miss the call.
I am feeling excited, anxious, nervous, scared...sometimes like this really isn't about to happen. It's weird really. At the drop of a hat it feels like I could burst out in tears.
I usually have adequate words to describe how I'm feeling on any given point of this adoption journey - right now I really don't.
Prayers are greatly appreciated as we wait for the call. For John and I, for baby Jackson and for our birth mom. For all the details to fall in place when we head to the hospital and bring our little man home.  And for the knots in my stomach to go away :-)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Meet The Carmona's

I just love how God works! During our Orphan Sunday event, a couple from our small group, Carlos and Stacy, asked a lot of questions about adoption. They said God had been tugging on their heart for a while to expand their family through adoption. They have a 10-year-old son named Austin, but Stacy isn't able to have any more biological children.
John and I went to dinner with our friends last week and got to answer all their adoption related questions and share our adoption journey. We got to encourage them and we're getting to pray for them as they step out in faith and trust God on this journey He has called them to.
I am SO excited that the Carmona's are officially starting the adoption process. They have decided to adopt domestically and they are gearing up to start all the paperwork, as well as, some fundraising!
Will you join me in praying for this awesome family? Will you consider donating to their adoption fund?
For the entire month of December, any donations made through our blog will benefit the Carmona's. They don't have a blog yet, so let's bless the socks out of them and raise a little money! What better gift can you give than a donation to help bring a family together. Any amount will help. $1 or $10 or $100...it all adds up! God will provide the resources for this family - no doubt!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Thanksgiving Traditions

This was the first year in 29 years that I was not with my family for Thanksgiving. I will admit I was a little sad this morning. I really like tradition, however, I made some new ones today. I work at the largest homeless shelter in Oklahoma and we have a huge Thanksgiving Banquet - my coworker Justin and I are in charge of making it happen. We had approximately 400 volunteers there today and that doesn't include the homeless that came to eat! It was crazy insane but also a lot of fun!
After the banquet, John and I had our Thanksgiving meal at Cracker Barrel and then headed home and took a LONG nap! This has been a crazy week and I was pooped. John and I drug all the Christmas decorations out of the attic and set up the Christmas tree. I still have ornaments to put on it, but I'll finish tomorrow. Now I am waiting until midnight - going to hit up Target. Told myself I wasn't going this year, but I have to keep some tradition, right??
Here are a few photos from our Thanksgiving! Now that the Thanksgiving chaos is over, we can focus on a little man who will be making his arrival SOON!

 Jordan, Justin, John and I at the Mission for the Thanksgiving Banquet.
 Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving Dinner...
 John didn't leave anything on his plate!
 My sweet friends Josh and Joe digging in to their dessert
 Maya and I..isn't she a doll??
This is the cutest little turkey I know!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2500 Food Boxes

A big part of my job at the Mission is to coordinate our holiday events. Today we had a BIG one. We handed out 2500 Thanksgiving food boxes to the near homeless in our community. The holidays can be very stressful at work - there is a lot going on - but today it was ALL worth it! Getting to hand out these boxes was such a blessing and a lot of fun - even though it was a bit cold! I really do LOVE my job! Here are a few photos from today:

 This is my coworker Justin. We work together to make sure all of the holiday events happen!
Loading food boxes

 Handing out food boxes and wishing people a Happy Thanksgiving!

 Canned ham anyone???
 Cars were bumper to bumper around the block waiting to get their food box

 So these cute things weren't helping with food boxes, but I couldn't resist snapping their photo! They make my heart so happy! Love them!
 Just a few of the 2500 boxes...
 My friend and coworker Abby...love her!
 I seriously work with the greatest people....
 The OKC Barons Hockey Team came out to help hand out food boxes

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Bittersweet....

Grief is a part of adoption. Sometimes in the midst of all the excitement, (that our baby is due in 21 days) I forget that sadness is mixed within the excitement of our story. It's that way with all adoption stories.
I saw our birthmom on Sunday. Her spirits were high and she reassured me that she isn't having any doubts about her decision to give her baby up for adoption. She knows she can't take care of a baby and is up front with anyone who comments on her pregnancy- she tells them about John and I and that we're adopting the baby.
Even though I believe she is 100% sure of the decision she is making, I also know that at some point the emotion and reality is going to hit her full force. Her decision is hard. Sometimes it's gutwrenching for me to think that she has carried this child for nine months, felt him kick, is going to have him and then immediately hand him to John and I to raise. I don't know if I could do what she is doing - I admire her, she has courage and I will forever be gratful that she wanted better for her child and trusted John and I to provide that for him. That she is literally giving us the gift of becoming parents.
As I drove home on Sunday after seeing her, I cried. Grief flooded my heart. I have to be so careful not to get too wrapped up in my own excitment of becoming a mommy, that I forget the pain and loss that our birth mom will be experiencing.
I grieve because even though God has written an amazing story - one that I will someday share with our son, there are parts that are hard to explain, parts that are sad. One day he will ask about his birth father and I won't have all the answers. We know very little and what we do know are hard topics to discuss with a child. But it's part of our story. It will be part of Jackson's story and we trust that God will equip us to handle those questions.
I remeber when John and I first started discussing adoption. The thought of domestic adoption scared us. We were afraid of having an open adoption. It's funny to remember all of those fears and to see how far God has brought us. The way God has weaved our lives with our birth mom's is beautiful. It's a story only He could write. He has replaced all of my fears with His peace and has made me realize that He has a purpose for our adoption being open. We have a chance to not only impact the life of this little boy, but to love, encourage and pour into the life of our birth mom.
On Saturday our birth mom called me to say she had bought Jackson a gift. She wanted to give him something that he could always keep. She told me that she bought something to keep him warm on the way home from the hospital.
She said she wasn't sure how to sign the card, so she just wrote Love, Alicia. I told her she could sign the card however she wanted. She said she didn't want to offend me because I am Jackson's mom. I told her that Jackson has two mom's and that no matter how she signs the card, it won't offend me. I'm not sure how she chose to sign the card, but she will always be Jackson's mother. Her picture sits on the table in his nursery. It's his story.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Showered With Love...

Jackson isn't even here yet, but he is already SPOILED! Some amazing friends threw me a baby shower this weekend and it was so much fun! They did such an awesome job - the invites, the decorations, the cupcakes and cookies! It was all fabulous!
John's mom and sister came in town and so did my mom and sister. We had a blast celebrating this baby boy who has already stolen our hearts....here's a glimpse of the awesome day!
 Yummy, yummy sugar cookies with Jackson's initials on them - it's funny. I noticed that everyone is referring to our little man as Jackson Henry. Not just Jackson. Huh...I wonder if that's going to stick.
 The awesome invite my friend Kathleen came up with. She is beyond creative! She made me a diaper cake, burp cloths and the cutest onesies!
 We drank from these cute mason jars with these adorable straws. Love!
 The wonderful hostesses: Jennifer, Kathleen and Shelli - minus Annette who was at her mother's 85th birthday party.
 John's mom and sister came from St. Louis for the shower
 Jackson's first pair of boots - from Shelli! My dad is so proud!
 The beautiful table...
 Me with Ellie Kate - doesn't she look like the cutest little cabbage patch doll??
 My mom is a trooper! Two weeks after surgery and she made the 4 hour trip to be at my baby shower! I am so glad that she and my sister were there!
 All the girls - opening lots and lots of stuff for Jackson.
 My friend Kay gets really creative and always puts together the best gift baskets!
 This is probably John's favorite gift....hope the little guy likes Cardinals Baseball
 John says he can't spit up on this...better not use it then!
 Wishes for Baby....
 More gifts...butt paste!
 The awesome diaper cake Kathleen made!
Most of the guests. A few had to slip out early but this is the majority of them! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spreading Awareness - Orphan Sunday 2011

Our church hosted Orphan Sunday yesterday and it turned out to be an amazing event - especially since it was the first time our church has participated.
We had several ways for members of our church to get involved with Orphan Care. We had a Compassion International Booth and had all but 2 of our children sponsored and many more people said they were going to go online and sponsor kids.
We also had a representative from the 111 Project, which is an organization who is recruiting one family from 111 churches in Oklahoma to become foster families.
We had a rep from DHS, Deaconess Adoption Agency and also had information from Gladney on international adoption.
John and I got to share the incredible story that God is writing through our adoption journeys and even had a couple (from our small group!!!) tell us they want to adopt! Woo hoo!
I can't wait to see what else God does through the people at Summit Church. I know that a lot of seeds were planted on Sunday.
During the service, God reminded me how much He loves the orphan and reignited the spark I have for orphan care and adoption. I walked away with a goal for myself:
To make sure the Mission (the homeless shelter where I work) has access to adoption resources in case there is ever another women or girl who wants to put their child up for adoption. When our birth mother told a staff worker her desire to find a family for her baby, we didn't have adequate resources for her. God made a way and took care of all the details, but I want to make sure that we have a plan in place for the future.
I spoke with Deaconess yesterday and the executive director said they would love to partner with us and provide counseling and adoption services free to our clients AND staff training on how to handle situations where a mother wants to place her child for adoption. Glory!
Here are a few photos from our event:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Making Lists and Checking Them Twice – Not the Christmas Kind

Usually by this time of the year I have made a list of Christmas presents I need to buy, Christmas cards I need to send and all of the other holiday stuff that needs to be done. I haven’t even thought about those things this year.

My list currently looks more like this:
call the pediatrician
Put the car seat in the car
Wash baby clothes, sheets and blankets
Clean house REALLY good
Make gifts for the girls who hosted my shower
Finish birth mother gift
Write Thank You Notes For Baby Gifts
Hang hooks in nursery/get dresser
Pick up the following things: alcohol, Vaseline, baby Tylenol/Motrin, mylecon drops, diaper rash cream, gripe water, diapers, wipes, formula and bottles
Figure out who can take care of the dog while we are at the hospital

I spoke with our birth mom last Sunday and at her Friday appointment, the doctor told her that Jackson needed to stay where he’s at for at least 3 more weeks. After that, he can come whenever his little heart desires. That was a week ago. So we could technically have a baby in as soon as 2 weeks or it could be another month. We are preparing and getting our ducks in a row just in case he decides to make an early appearance.

I am super thankful for some friends who are throwing us a baby shower on the 12th. I am getting SO excited to celebrate our baby boy! I just wish Kathleen would give me some hints about the shower (but she won’t). I’m not very good with surprises. I’m the girl who usually snoops and finds ALL of her Christmas presents long before December 25th.

If you have any tips for me as I prepare for motherhood, please feel free to comment! I’ve been waiting a long time to be a mommy, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking out just a bit! Is there anything I need to add to my mommy-to-do list?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Coupon Class to Raise Funds for Our Adoption

A friend of mine (and fellow Ethiopia adoptive Mom) is doing something SO cool for John and I. She is hosting a coupon class and ALL the proceeds will benefit our adoption. She coupons and saves a TON, but she's not one of those crazy ladies that has a garage full of toothpaste.
She gets a lot of stuff free and donates it to food pantries and families in her church who need the help. How cool is that....Here is what she published in her student/faculty announcements about the coupon class. It is being held at OBU in Shawnee. If you would like to attend, please come! You will learn how to save money and help our family bring home our Missing Linck!
Coupon Class

Have you noticed the coupon craze lately? Seems everyone is saving money! Why not you? Come to a coupon class with presenter, local coupon guru, Carrie Loper writer at couponcloset.net! The class will be held from 6-8 in the upper GC, rooms 218-220 on Monday, November 14. The class is a fundraising event for the Lincks who are raising money to bring their children home from Ethiopia. You can visit their blog at ourmissinglinck.blogspot.com to find out more about the call God has placed on their lives. The class will cost $10, but rest assured you will save more than that the first time you shop after Carrie's class. This class is not about Extreme Couponing. It is practical everyday couponing that will save you TONS! Please contact Dr. Krista Hands at krista.hands@okbu.edu so that we can have a headcount of how many to prepare for. Tickets will be sold at the door. Plan to arrive by 5:45 to get your ticket! This is one event you do not want to miss!