Long Time Coming…

It has been months since I last posted….oops!

I have been reminding myself for months to log on here and update you all!

Summer has literally FLOWN by and we have lived so much. I honestly cannot cram all that we have done the past few months into this post. We’ve had tons of family time, played outside a LOT, spent a few weekends at the lakes, flew to a beautiful wedding in Southern California and have been able to volunteer tons of hours on things that I love.

Living life….not putting it on hold. This is how I get through the adoption wait.

This girl right here keeps me pretty busy. Love!!! She gives me hope and the tenderness for adoption.

14

Recently I have had many people ask about our adoption journey and where we are in finding a child. The answer is….we are still waiting. The wait is so hard when you sit down and let your mind wander “there”. You know that place. The place where you think about how unfair life is and how there is no end in sight. But then,something wakes me up and I am reminded of all that I have to be thankful for. Through this wait I have been able to live and live with joy. I choose to be thankful and remind myself of everything that God has provided for us. He has provided and will continue to provide.

Throughout the last year we have had a few phone calls about possible adoptions and none of them have gone further than that initial phone call. Some would consider that to be a huge disappointment. Several years ago, that kind of disappointment would have gotten the best of me. Through our many years of infertility and Emerson’s adoption story, we have learned so much. We have chosen to see those moments as a reminder that God has not forgotten us. You have not forgotten either. Thank you so much for your prayers and any connections that you may have that could lead us to a child in need of a home.

Ways you can help us in our journey:

Pray for our future birth mother and child (we want an open adoption so we pray for mama as much as baby).

Pray for us to continue to wait well and learn all that we can through this process.

If you know of any situations where a mother is considering adoption placement and you feel led to mention us, please do!

Thanks for checking in on us!

Nicole

Advertisements

Loving What I Already Have

 

Say-goodbye-to-something-you-dont-need-right-now

I am learning.

It is so hard for me (and I am sure a lot of you) to be content in current circumstances…no matter what that means for you. Personally, I am always looking through my “home updates” list and adding new projects or items to the shopping list to make it prettier or more functional. Our current house is almost “done” and I sometimes find myself ready to move on to the next home that needs fixing even though I probably still have 50 little tweaks I still want to make here! Yes, I have realized that I might be a wee bit crazy! I am wired this way!

Recently, I have been going through two books that have begun to change my outlook on being content with where I am and loving the life that I have been given. This includes the sometimes daunting “adoption wait”. We seriously have been learning so much about ourselves during this waiting time. One of those lessons is to be grateful and content with what we already have. We have been immeasurably blessed with adopting Emmy three years ago and still cherish that gift every single day (yes even on the hard days)! We know that we will become parents again sometime sooner or later and have decided that we really need to just be thankful for where we are…it will really help us to stay sane! We are not going to focus on “what we don’t have” but what we already get to enjoy. Adoption is a different ballgame in parenting. The control is taken away and we MUST rely on God to put the plans together. We can breathe deeper knowing that we have “let go” of the control.

Please go check out the two books that have been inspiring lately!

Love The Home You Have by Melissa Michaels. See it Here. You can also purchase it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It just released this week! Go get it if you are even slightly interested in how you can learn to love your home.

home love

Conversation Peace. Find it Here on Amazon or find it at LifeWay. Even though this one is more about controlling speech…I have really been taking away the lessons where I look inside to why my speech and attitude are less than desirable sometimes. I am working on changing my attitude and want to DAILY live in a place of being grateful for what God has allowed me to have in this life.

Hmm…maybe this will eventually carry over into loving the body I have been given!? Maybe someday!? Miracles DO happen!

Complete Life Reveal….aka The Home Study

homestudyapproved

Hooray for being one step closer to being “Home Study Approved”!!

It has been a long time since I’ve made a post to the blog….and I think it has been so long because keeping active helps me to be more patient during the wait. Since January began, I’ve been refinishing our staircase, painting, coaching volleyball, helping with kids at church & being a mommy most of all. I like to let myself get wrapped up in the daily life because it is hard to think that this journey might be a LONG one and I still could be writing about waiting years from now. #insertyourprayershere

One really exciting detail! We finished up all the paperwork and medical visits for our home study a couple weeks ago. A home study is a detailed report of our family that includes pretty much everything (physical/relationships/family/education/finances/parenting/spiritual/etc.) It can take months to complete. It is like doing an entire life report and we really felt proud when it was completed. The transparency of it kinda feels nice. We made sure to drive the package of papers and the check to Catholic Charities’ office so we knew it wouldn’t get lost in the mail haha! 🙂 Finishing up that chunk of work is huge. When CC gets through all of our papers…they will schedule a home visit and we’ll have a personal interview with the Social Worker at our house. Once that is complete, the home study can be “finalized”. This does not mean that we will be matched any sooner…it just means one huge hurdle is out of the way once we do get matched. We knew how much work it took so decided to get this done right away.

Thanks for your kind words and continued prayers! Keep praying for God to work this out. We are relying on Him to lead and you all to help piece this journey together for us.

J & N

**I will be sharing soon about the opportunity I recently had to step out and speak to a group of lovely women about how God has worked in my life through adoption. So grateful to have had that chance and cannot wait to share that experience too!

How to Handle the Holiday Season While Waiting to Adopt

 

I don’t know about you but I was pumped and ready for Christmas the day after Halloween! I have been making hot chocolate way too much, making gift lists and even decorated the front porch. Tonight I got out all of our Christmas books and we read How the Grinch Stole Christmas before bed  🙂

grinch

 

Yes….I hate to admit that RIGHT NOW I am watching the Hallmark channel because they are playing Christmas movies. So happy!

The holidays (Christmas especially) are so precious and exciting when you get to see it through the eyes of a child. I can’t wait to see her sing in her first Christmas Musical, see her face on Christmas morning, and to experience all of that joy through her.

I am thankful for to have that joy. That joy is crucial. That joy is precious to me.

The truth is…I have a hole in my heart. A space reserved for our little one. He or she may already be here….or on the way. Either way, my heart longs to snuggle them in the Santa footie PJ’s and to sing every last Christmas carol to him or her. I cannot wait to meet you precious little one…wherever you are!

So…until we meet that little angel we keep our minds fixed on God and His promises. God will provide and perfectly put the plan together in HIS time. I don’t just hope He will, I KNOW He will. His promises are so reassuring.

Whenever I start to doubt, I think about all of the times God was faithful to me. I think about Emerson’s story. A story I could have never imagined. God knows how to make a way. I now look back at all those years we were childless and had such sorrow during Christmas. Kinda very hopeless.

Yeah….this picture just touches the surface…at least we can now laugh a little bit about that chapter of our lives.

mary christmas infertility

We are so blessed to have had that pit of sorrow filled up with joy.

Christmas time makes me thankful. She was born a week before Christmas and we have never received such a selfless and perfect gift. It is so hard to imagine that a sweet 16-year-old mama could be so selfless and love her child so much to place her into our hands just a few days before Christmas. I still get emotional thinking about what she went through.

This Christmas, we will fix our eyes on God & His promises. We will truly experience joy. We will make memories. We will pray for God to bring us that perfect angel. We will cherish the HERE and NOW.

I hope you too can find the joy in your life and remember to enjoy the little things. Be thankful in all circumstances, even when it hurts and there seems to be no answer. Hold on.

Love you all….keep praying for our journey. Thanks!

How We Celebrate Adoption!

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month!!! Here are some ways WE celebrate adoption as a family!

Talk about it regularly and with joy. We tell Emerson several times a week about her birth families and how much they love her. We tell her how thankful we are that God put us together as a family. When we pray together, we pray that God would bring us together with a baby brother or sister just like He brought Emerson to us. She isn’t three years old yet so her understanding is limited….but I never underestimate just HOW MUCH she actually knows. I don’t ever want a negative word to come out of my mouth regarding her adoption experience. After all, adoption is something that happened to her…not her entire world. Her entire world is made of play dough, crayons, stuffed animals and candy 🙂

“Gotcha Day” or Finalization Day. Emerson is still very young, but we try to do something special on the day our adoption was finalized. I still look back at the pictures of that day & am overwhelmed with the joy of it all. It was the day she legally became a “Neuenschwander”. Even though she totally felt like our own precious baby from the second we saw her…there really is something special about that court appearance & paper signing!

Reading children’s books about adoption. We actually have 5-6 children’s books about adoption and LOVE them! They are an excellent way to connect feelings with characters and a way that I can relate certain situations to my precious one. Some of my favorites are:

A Mother for Choco

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

God Found Us You

A Blessing From Above

 

Ya know how I said November is adoption month? The adoption community is in full swing this month with celebration, education, and full of thanks for how adoption has touched lives. If you have ever felt a tug on your heart towards adoption, I urge you to jump in & take a leap of faith. Pray & then take some action! 🙂

 

call to adoptI know that adoption is not for everyone….but if YOU are even just slightly thinking about adoption…I promise that you will be forever changed. Check out a local adoption celebration for Fort Wayne & surrounding communities on Star 88.3’s Page.

adoption celebration

 

Love you all! Keep praying for us to be connected with the mother and child that God has planned!

 

 

Determine My Steps…To Prepare a Nursery?

Every adoption is different and this journey is already very different from the experience we had with Emerson. We were matched unexpectedly and after meeting Kayli we decided on making plans for baby names, a nursery, bought diapers and cleared the guest room to start getting baby furniture. We have been asked this time if we are preparing a nursery or stocking up on baby supplies….and the answer is…not yet.

Kind of a hot topic in the adoption community. All opinions are valid and I respect the different choices.

image

We haven’t talked baby names or figured out a paint color yet :)The reality is, it is hard to start a nursery and stockpile diapers when we have no leads to a potential match. Hard because it requires the heart being ahead of the reality. Hard because once we do get matched it could fall through. Hard because maybe the baby wont be a newborn but 14 months old. Hard because we might have to look at a room 100% ready for a precious one and have to wait 2 years until his or her arrival. I think I am close to starting to stockpile a few baby items…just not quite yet. Once we do get matched up I KNOW that my heart will jump all the way in. That was my attitude with Emmy…prepare my heart for her. I am so thankful for that decision to be emotionally ready for her. My decision is to deal with the pain of a reversed adoption only if that situation comes. Meanwhile……

I love to search for and find inspirational adoption stories and quotes as a way to help me wait patiently…the other day I came across this list of prayers to stay faithful during the adoption wait.

image

 

My plan is to spend a good amount of time on each one and really live and learn from this waiting period. Of course, these can be applied to so many situations so go through these with me if you would like 🙂

Today the verse was, “We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but GOD ’s purpose prevails.” (‭Proverbs‬ ‭19‬:‭21‬ MSG) How perfect for someone like me haha! I love to take action and make things happen. It probably makes sense to stock up on bottles and diapers…but what if our child is already 5 months old or a toddler? I want to be careful not to get in the way of God’s plan and purpose by keeping my mind stuck on only adopting a newborn. There are so many other things other than this adoption journey that I could give over to God to have His purpose prevail. I plan on taking a deep look at my heart and what else I could give over. Jesus, please determine my steps. Thanks for sharing this journey with us. You are all precious to me.

Nicole

A Call

image

Have you ever been “called” to something? Over the last ten years I have imagined what kind of callings God had for my life and have played each one out in my head. Does God want me to be a missionary in a foreign country? Does He want me to be a foster parent? Does God want me to move to the inner city and welcome the neighborhood to my house? Maybe He wants us to just do our best in our current jobs and relationships. Seriously…I think way too much. I have many passions and hobbies and it seemed overwhelming (and sometimes still does). One thing we did know, Jon & I felt called to be a mom and dad. So, we said OK and tried to become parents….

A year went by. Nothing. We were still optimistic. I had read and heard that we shouldn’t be too worried until 1.5 to 2 years. Two years went by….still nothing (except for a lot of hope and then let downs). Jon & I talked quite a bit and decided that we did not want to spend all of our earnings on infertility treatments. It felt wrong for US. Some people wonder and still ask us why we chose NOT to undergo IVF or any of the other medical “help”. Simply, we didn’t feel like we were called to do that. We were going to trust God’s plan and wait on what He wanted us to do. Really….to some people this makes no sense and they just cannot understand. It is ok if you don’t understand. God’s call is unique for each family.

In February of 2011 we hit a low point…and we FINALLY decided to give this situation completely to God. I finally told some friends our struggle and released so much of the pain and disappointment that comes along with thinking that I was a failure. A couple months later I had the opportunity to move to a different job and was very happy with the changes and new outlook. Only a few weeks after working at the school, I received the phone call that changed our lives. A friend/former pastor called with an adoption situation. I immediately said yes….then told him I better ask Jon for sure! Jon was on board with the possibility right away! We had talked about adoption earlier on in our marriage and both had the idea that we might want to adopt after having a few biological kiddos.

God’s call can come to us in so many different ways. Ours came literally through a phone call.

Looking back, it was all in God’s plan and He was the one who set it in motion. Here is a short timeline of how Emerson found us.

-Years of disappointment and struggle to become parents.

-Went to a women’s retreat with church. Let go of anger. Gave it to God. Finally told my story to some friends and asked for prayer for the next step.

-My dream job opened up and I was hired!

-Around the same time, Kayli (Em’s birth mommy) moved to Indiana with her mom.

-Got to work side by side with an amazing woman (Kelli) who had gone through the same struggles as me. She had 1 son through adoption at the time I was hired. I got to witness her 2nd and 3rd and she helped me tremendously through our adoption journey. I am forever grateful to her!

-Got the call to possibly meet Kayli to see if we would be interested in adopting.

-Met a few weeks later and LOVED her and her family.

The rest of the story will have to wait for another time!

I hope that you are blessed by God’s love and grace by reading how he put together this story! My hope is that He is glorified by Jon & I writing and updating about our current journey as well. If you feel called to tell your story….DO IT! We have been so blessed by sharing our story and finding out how many people have been through or are going through similar stuff right now. Thanks for reading!

While We Are Waiting…

2

Emerson is excited to become a big sister and we pray for him or her every night before she goes to bed 🙂 Thanks Krista for taking this picture!

I am so humbled as I sit down to write this post. Tons of you have sent such kind and encouraging words to Jon and myself. We truly appreciate you thinking of us and praying for God to put together this adoption story. Right now we are in that awkward waiting phase where we just…..keep waiting. I am not the most patient person in the world and when I get an idea in my head, I go “all in” until it is complete. The adoption process is definitely a way for God to teach me patience and joy in our daily lives. I feel filled with joy and optimism that can only be from God. I feel such a peace over this whole journey that I cannot explain. With Emerson’s adoption there was so much anxiety and tons of fear of the unknown. I will be sharing her adoption story on here soon! Don’t worry….our fears were all calmed and we are extremely blessed by how everything took place with sweet Emmy girl.  I know that once we get picked as parents we will probably have some of those worries again….it just feels surreal at this moment to totally trust God to put this story together!

I also want to share with you lovelies about open adoption on this blog! There are so many old myths and each adoption story is unique so please don’t think our story is “normal”. There is NO normal in any adoption situation. I will be writing about Emmy’s birth family with their permission so you can see how amazing open adoption CAN be. No crazy drama here!

Let me tell you today about Dawn. Dawn is one of Emerson’s biological grandmas. I had the privilege of meeting her at Emerson’s birth for the first time. It was such a crazy day that I really did not get to know her very well during all of the hospital stay and we didn’t really talk much until more recently. I think it is very hard for any biological father’s family in an adoption situation and I understand how it took us longer to re-connect. Jon and I had already formed a good relationship with Em’s birth mom and her mom during the pregnancy and adoption process and they became extended family. It took a little longer for us to get to know Em’s other biological family…and that is ok. 🙂 Sometimes it takes a while for relationships to grow…and I am so happy we decided to work on making more connections for Emmy. Dawn is spunky, amazingly sweet and wears her heart on her sleeve. I can see these qualities in Emerson too! I asked Dawn to write a couple sentences about what open adoption has meant to her. Here is what she says!

 

Nicole,

Well I don’t know if I can begin to say how open adoption has affected my life in a couple sentences..!  First: Me and Levi (we) are so thankful and blessed to had our little blessing to be adopted by two loving, amazing, sweet, kind, and open minded and open hearted people as you two, and to know in our hearts she is loved and cared for everyday not only by you two but all of you two’s family and friends as well. Second: I as a grandmother love to see her be able to grow in pictures, be able to hear her sweet little voice on videos, and to be able to send her little things that I hope will bring a smile to her sweet little face and to let her know I am always thinking of her. I love that fact that we get to spend a time with her in person. Third: Someday she will know she was always in our hearts and minds and we always put her and her well being first and above what other people thought and our own feeling’s…it was always what was best for her and her life and upbringing. Fourth: I would not change one thing when it comes to the choice of open adoption for my little blessing and I am so grateful to her mother for taking the time to have found two of the most amazing people to raise and love one of the most important people in my life…and I say in my life….because with open adoption…she is still in my life almost every day, and for that I am blessed and thankful!!

Thanks Dawn! I tear up every time I think about all of you (Em’s bio. Family)….I feel the love and will always cherish her and you!

Captured

Yeah, sooooooo we don’t know if we will get “the call” in 2 weeks or 2 years. It is just part of adoption. We know this fact AND it is what it is. 🙂

We are trying to find ways to keep busy during the wait………….1

One way I am keeping busy is by capturing moments and memories on this blog. Last weekend I was able to go see Beth Moore live in Fort Wayne. What an amazing day! I learned so much and was touched by the entire day of teaching and worship. ONE thing that I took away from that conference is that my joy is not full unless I am sharing it with family and friends. Well. Hmm. I am not good at sharing joy or pain. This is another reason I believe God has his hands all over this adoption journey. Why in the world would we have been overwhelmed by the feeling that we were supposed to “share” this announcement/journey with all of you?! Totally out of my comfort zone. The timing of His assurance was perfect.

Ohmygosh! I was meaning to write about our photo shoot in that paragraph up there! Glad I shared that with you though. So, we took a road trip to Indy so my gorgeous sister-in-law could take some adoption journey pictures of us! Thanks Krista! We are so grateful to have pics of the beginning of this story.