Monday, February 16, 2015

Dear Birth Parents

I have spent lots of time reflecting on this article from the Huffington Post.  If you haven't read the article, it talks about a woman who divorces her husband after he decides to keep their newborn son with Down Syndrome.  (You can also read the mother's side here.)

This article hits close to home as their story is set in Armenia, where our son was born.  There is little I know of our son's situation and how he came to be an orphan.  I know that he has been an orphan since birth.  I don't know how old Sam's birth parents were, whether he had siblings or how financially well-off they were.  I don't know much, but I am confident that the decision they made was very difficult for them.  I never had to make a decision whether to give my child up for adoption and I have never birthed a child with special needs.  

I refuse to shame or throw stones at this mother or Sam's birth parents.  Instead, I wish to reform the stigma around individuals with special needs and adoption.  It saddens me that these parents didn't have, or didn't feel they had, the resources to raise a child with down syndrome.  My prayer is that places like Reece's Rainbow didn't need to exist because all of our orphans had homes.  

I've been reading a great book called, In on it:  What adoption parents would like you to know about adoption by Elisabeth O'Toole.  One paragraph she wrote was very insightful and exactly how I have been feeling lately, "Expectant adoptive parents are often highly sensitive to the idea that they await someone else's loss in order to gain what they want so much.  In order to be parents, someone else has to release - to lose - a child."

I am grateful for Sam's birth parents.  I think of them often and pray for them daily.  I wish I knew them better so I could thank them for their son.  We recently just celebrated Sam's birthday 6,000 miles away.  My heart was heavy as I thought of how different that day must have been for Sam's birth parents.  

I want to end my entry with a letter I've written for Sam's birth parents.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

This is our last

As my family and I walked through the holidays I often used the phrase, "This is our last..."

This is our last Christmas without Sam
This is our last holiday being a family of three
This is our last New Year's kiss without Sam's lips
This is the last time we will have one child opening presents under the tree
This is the last Christmas Card with only one child's photo displayed
This is my last Christmas break sharing the TV with one child

While I enjoy the holidays and seeing all my family and friends -- this holiday was different.  It was difficult celebrating knowing all of my family members were not present.  It was hard knowing my baby boy was across the country spending his Christmas in an orphanage.  I felt very guilty and saddened that he wasn't with us.

I know that Sam is being taken care of and his basic needs are being met - I know that there are very worse places he could be.  However, the best place he could be is with his loving family.  

I imagine Sam singing "I'll be home for Christmas".  Next year, as a family of four, we will decorate the tree together and laugh as our Elf on the Shelf causes mischief in our home.  Next year, my son will experience the love of a family who celebrate his birth and the birth of Jesus Christ!

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Give thanks in all circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Be joyful always;
pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

This verse is so appropriate after we just finished our Thanksgiving Holiday and several fundraisers.  My son, Jack, has spent all month learning about being grateful at church.  Our children's ministry has been singing this beautiful song dedicated to this verse.  

Jeff and I are SO joyful and SO thankful for the support we have received.  Our fundraisers and donations have brought us over $15,000.  The love and gifts you have shown us are incredible.  We thank God every night for you all and the individuals who have organized and planned our fundraisers.

While we cannot name every individual who has donated to our cause, we would like to acknowledge the individuals and businesses who helped organize and support our fundraisers.

The invitation to our pasta fundraiser.

Pasta Fundraiser - September 21, 2014
-Mike & Katie Hendricks - Organizer
-Mitch & Lauren Ward - Organizer
-Brian & JoJo Gleason - Organizer
-Russo's Pizza - Hosted Fundraiser

-Merry June - 'Bring Sam Home' Necklaces

Bowling Fundraiser - October 14, 2014
Bowling Pin Auction items
-Sgt. D's Foundation - A charitable foundation that organized our Bowling Fundraiser
-Fred & Ann Jewell - Fundraiser Organizer
-Jason & Amanda Werbeskas - Fundraiser Organizer
-Cinda DeBolt - Fundraiser Organizer
-Denise Clement - Fundraiser Organizer
-Bree Bode - Fundraiser Organizer
-Travis & Sydney Hancock - Fundraiser Organizer
-Wade & Tammy Hancock - Fundraiser Organizer
-Ellen Scripsema - Silent Auction donations
-Jody Bode - Silent Auction donations
-BC Pizza - donated pizzas to our bowling fundraiser attenders
-Waxology - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Koeze - lane sponsor / cashews & chocolates donation
-Top of the List - Silent auction items & door prizes
-Grand Die - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Family Fare - Donation of gift cards and items
-Adventure Seekers Travel - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Hancock Carpentry - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-The Clique Lanes - Bowling lanes and bartender donation
-Scott Moll Drywall, Inc. - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Jostens - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Big Star Lake & Resort - Bowling Lane Sponsor and Silent Auction donations
-Dr. Sam Bander - Bowling Lane Sponsor and Silent Auction donations
-Benepay - Bowling Lane Sponsor 

Premier Jewelry Fundraiser - November 24, 2014
-Kristy Owens, Premier Jewelry Consultant

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Unspoken Grief

I never imagined my blog would bring forth so many questions about infertility.  People have come asking questions about a sister or friend's infertility and how they should support her.  I have had questions about fertility treatments I have gone through.  Others have shared personal struggles and how they are handling it.  I hate this for all of you.  My hearts breaks with you and it is my prayer that the desires of your heart would be heard and answered.

As I mentioned in our first blog post we have tried many times to have a baby of our own.  We even had an amazing friend and member of our church offer to carry a child for us (unfortunately, this ended with no pregnancy).  It was always our prayer to have another child.  People would often say, "Why don't you just adopt?"  While I sincerely appreciated their quick-fix advice my answer was always, "We are not there yet."  

We are not there yet?  What did that mean exactly?  It meant we needed to grieve and accept that we would never have another biological child.  We would never have a sibling for Jack that would look like him or have his mannerisms.  I would not have a biological daughter that might wear glasses in first grade and be called four-eyes (like I did).  We needed to grieve the biological child we would never have - and this was gut-wrenching painful.  

So I will attempt to answer your questions and offer my unsolicited advice...

My first piece of advice for those of you who have a friend or family member struggling with infertility -- Adoption is not a fix for infertility sadness.  Adoption does not make the pain of infertility go away.  It is just another way to complete their family.  By suggesting they should just adopt minimizes their grief and often offends.  Also, sometimes adoption is just not an option for families.  In many cases doing a few rounds of IVF still doesn't equate to the cost of adoption.  

People in my life would often say, "Erica I am so sorry you are going through this.  I don't really know what to say to you except I am sorry."  You know what?  That was exactly what I needed to hear.  Second piece of advice - Don't offer your infertility advice (unless you are an Infertility Doctor).  It is not helpful to hear about your cousin's best friends uncles daughter who struggled with infertility.  It is not helpful to hear how I should just 'relax' and it will happen.

One day while sharing my frustration with my mom she said something I will never forget.  She said, "Erica I am sorry this has happened to you but it has made you a kinder, wiser and more compassionate person."  Final and last advice - Acknowledge my strength.  Recognize that I am walking through a very lonely, vulnerable and sad part of my life.  I am not asking for you to pity me or treat me different just honor my strength.

Lastly, for all of you who cry, beg and plead with God for a child my last piece of advice is for you  -- You will be ok.  This sadness is temporary.  Whether you have a biological child or not, whether you chose to adopt or not, whether you remain childless or not -- You will be ok.  You are strong.  You are a fighter.  You are not alone.  May God bless you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gifts from God

James 1:17 ESV - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights and whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.


Let's be very frank - adoption is not cheap or easy.  I am not complaining, just stating a fact.  We knew it was expensive and labor intensive before we started the process.  We knew that we would be spending money we had set aside for other things on adoption.  We knew that our parents would help us (because we have amazing parents).  We also knew that it would be difficult but we could do it.  And, we knew that God would provide because we felt God was leading us to adopt.  I know, in prayer, I felt God saying "Erica, you will be ok and I will provide for you."

In prayer, we spent countless hours asking God if we should pursue adoption.  We prayed and asked if He was closing this infertility door and asking us to select a different route.  We felt confident that having another biological child was not the plan for us.  We clearly felt God telling us to adopt.  Jeff and I took a huge leap of faith knowing that some of our adoption fund would be dependent on the help of others.  

God has provided!  God has filled our hearts with blessings!  He has gifted us with the financial support of so many.  Friends have setup fundraisers for us without hesitation.  My sister-in-law is selling homemade necklaces (Rainbows for Sam) to help with our cause.  Friends have offered clothing and toys for when Sam comes home.  Friends have provided adoption resources and down syndrome resources to help make this transition easier.  Friends and family have wrote recommendation letters for us.  Friends and family have come forth with words of encouragement and prayers.  

Jeff and I sit in awe of what God has done for us.  We are humbled by our friends, family and church community who have loved on us.  This is what Christ is all about!  This is why God created us - to LOVE one another (Matthew 22:36-40).

Thank you our dear friends.  Thank you for loving on the Bodes!