The Conclusion…for now

Ok, I’m back with the last bit of the story of how Ezra came to us…keep in mind it isn’t wrapped up all nice and neatly at the end…there are still things that are uncertain; legal documents that need signed, and a last name that needs changed, before he is fully ours in the eyes of the law…but, spoiler alert, he is already fully ours in our hearts…this is just the conclusion of our journey to one another…

“He’s here!” A strange voice spoke on the other end of the phone, she told me what hospital and that baby and birth mom were both doing great, and she would like us to come to the hospital. I got off the phone and looked at my dad and older son…we were packing up a pack-n-play at my aunts house which would serve as baby’s bed until we could get a basinet or crib…I don’t remember much after that point, I guess I drove home, waited for Ian to get there, called my mom I think…it’s all kind of a blur…I just kept thinking, “did she say he?”

When Ian got home we rushed to the hospital and made it there before she was even in her room. We went to a waiting area and I can not even describe the emotions and fear and anxiety flowing through me…and then I saw them…I won’t ever forget that moment. We were sitting in a waiting area…trying to decide just how long to wait before checking the room again to see if they were there…and then I saw a stretcher start to come down the other end of the hall followed by a baby in one of those weird plastic cribs they put babies in at the hospitals. As they got closer I saw it was birth mom. I stood up, exchanged a few words with her to see how she was and tell her we’d be to the room soon…and then I saw him.

 

He was perfection!

The first moment I saw him the desire to run over to him and touch him, to sweep him into my arms and kiss his face was so incredibly intense…but it was tempered by uncertainty and a desire to respect this young woman…so instead I watched him pass by with out touching him, sat back down, and waited until it was appropriate to join them in the room. The entire time I felt like my whole being…not just my heart…was just going to explode out of me.

When we finally got to the room there were other people there…a friend of hers and some teachers that had supported her through her pregnancy…I felt so awkward. But, they immediately greeted us at the parents and were so excited both for her and us and over this little baby boy. I spent that evening in awe of this young woman as she gushed over her little boy, telling him how beautiful and perfect he was, how much she loved him…and then asking us what we wanted to name him, telling us she’d already signed all the paperwork so we could stay at the hospital with him, asking us what we wanted on some medical decisions that needed to be made…I found myself in awe of how selflessly she was loving this little boy.

When we told her the name we liked, everyone in the room agreed…it was a good strong name, and it was perfect…baby boy became Ezra Dante.

I don’t know how to put the hospital experience into words really. I think I experienced a full range of human emotion during that time. The moment I held him I felt peace and wholeness…he fit and my arms didn’t ever want to let him go, it was like my arms missed him the minute he left them…the moments I had to leave him to spend time with birth mom my heart wanted to spin out of control into fear and anxiety…the first time a nurse left him with Ian and I and walked out of the room I found myself wondering if I really could do this…then I’d walk by the nurses station to ask a question and they’d refer to me as Ezra’s mom, or us as the adoptive parents and the joy would bubble up in my heart…but when the nurse came in and told me we would be going home in 2 hours I have to admit I got hit with a wave of overwhelming everything…fear birth mom would change her mind, anxiety that I didn’t know what to do, excitement and joy because soon I would be walking out of that hospital with my baby boy and taking him home!

It’s been a month and a half since we stood out front of that hospital and said goodbye to Ezra’s birth mom…crazy how something can feel like it just happened, but also feel so long ago…there were hugs and words of gratitude and so many tears. Then we put him in the car and brought him home for the first time ever.

There are still so many emotions…it’ll be 6 months before the adoption is finalized and he has our last name…which means that I find myself hit by waves of fear, anxiety, and doubt daily. But our hearts decided not to wait 6 months…we have completely fallen in love with this little guy…the newest Dizon!

There is so much more to the story…because so much of it hasn’t even been lived out yet…but this is where we end for now…Ezra in our home and in our hearts.

The Continuation

“Would you be interested in adopting her baby?”

I don’t remember much of the conversation that followed…I remember asking some basic questions about her. She was young, very far along in her pregnancy…we were told 8 months at the time…and she was in need of a family for the baby she had decided to give up for adoption months before. There is more to be told of course, more layers to the story, more to why us and why then…but to go into those things is to wade into the waters of someone else’s story…and not for me to tell.

As I heard the words “would you be interested in adopting her baby,” something happened in my heart, it was like a jolt of energy pulsed right through it…and I knew…I knew the answer was yes.

I saw the months of heartbreak, the desire for a child I had wrestled with, the grief of loosing a child, and the preparation of my heart for an infant…something I had never been fully confident in wanting before…in an instant, something deep inside of me knew…and all I could think was, “this is what we have been waiting for.

Ian and I left the conversation and I did the only thing I could think to do…I ran to find my best friend. I found her husband instead, “What do you need her for?” he asked “EMOTIONAL SUPPORT!” I said as I ran off to call her.

I don’t remember much of our conversation over the phone…except there were both tears and laughter…and sooooo much excitement…as she reminded me she had predicted this was how Dizon #2 would come to us one day…and encouragement that I could do this, that Ian and I could do this, and that we wouldn’t be doing it alone.

The next several days are a blur. We got in touch with the adoption agency we used with Andrew. They reassured us that 8 months pregnant meant we would have to work fast, but that it was possible to get us certified in time and they would work with us to make it happen…then when we found out she was actually due in just a few days, we all scrambled to get background checks done and paperwork in to make it the impossible happen. Ian and I started to pick out car seats, bottles, diapers, and to communicate to the people in our lives that NEEDED to know that a big change could be coming…all while not yet having met Ezra’s birth mom or even really knowing if this was for real.

I was riding an emotional roller coaster of uncertainty and excitement. Maternal instincts were kicking in and I wanted to prepare for my child…but was this my child…it was happening so fast I needed to prepare for this child…but if it wasn’t my child wouldn’t it just hurt too bad if I began preparing and dreaming and hoping…if I didn’t prepare and it was my child how would we get home from the hospital, or change diapers, or feed…basically my mind and emotions were everywhere.

Saturday…one week after the conversation that changed my life…we met birth mom.

We left the meeting reassured that this truly was what she wanted for her child, and completely impressed by how selflessly she loved the baby growing inside of her. It seemed that a baby was coming our way soon…so we ordered a car seat, bought some diapers, grabbed some basic things from my cousin, cleaned the house, and did all the laundry…we did everything we could think of and manage to do as quickly as we could do it to prepare for what may happen…at this point it’s worth noting that we had all decided that baby was a girl and dreams of pink and sweet dresses were part of the preparation.

Then Sunday we got a phone call…he was here!

…to be continued…again…I know, it’s just cruel…but the next part is already written this time…I’ll post next Tuesday.

Featured image by Michaella Photography the last image by me 🙂

 

The Journey to Ezra

It has been a shamefully long time since I wrote anything for you all, and I’d love to have some sort of elaborate and wonderful excuse…but the truth is, life got really hard…and sharing that with all of you seemed impossible…so I stopped writing.

This time last year I was sitting in expectation of 2017. It seemed that every where I went, and every thing I read, and everything I listened to, HOPE was being repeated to me over and over and over. So I began 2017 in anticipation of this year of HOPE, eager to see all the Lord would do to show me this beautiful hope.

And then 2017 began, and I discovered that I was to spend the year learning how to hope…and that it was quite a painful process…at least for me. In this past year I have experienced some of the deepest most personal pains of my life, and they brought with them grief, shame, anger, confusion.

So instead of feeling like a year of HOPE, it felt like a year of sorrow, failure, and isolation.

I can’t share many of these stories here…because while the pain of the situation left a mark on my heart, they aren’t my stories to tell…but the one pain I can share is where the story of our newest son begins.

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Early in 2017 Ian & I discovered I was pregnant…because I was having a miscarriage.

For days I had felt different, in the back of my mind I though maybe just maybe…but it was too soon for a test, so I waited. I won’t ever forget the moment I knew something was wrong, or hearing the doctor share news that should have been so happy…except it was followed by something so sad. I can’t describe the confusion in my heart, of wanting to rejoice over the news and love the life inside of me, but instead being smacked in the face with that life being gone and my heart being filled with grief.

It took me months to process this grief, to truly work though it with the Lord. To get to a place where I could surrender my anger, confusion, and hurt, and decide to hope again. It took me about 8 months actually.

One day Ian and I were talking, about how if things had gone differently, we would be welcoming a new little Dizon into the world in just weeks. That night I sat down with a heavy heart and wrote a letter to the Lord. I poured it all out…the anger, hurt, sorrow. Much like HOPE as I entered 2017, I had begun seeing JOY everywhere I went…and it made me so mad. Because if a year of JOY was anything like a year of HOPE…I wanted nothing to do with it. But, at the end of all my pouring out of emotion, I came to a place of peace, of trust, and a desire to walk in whatever it was the Lord has for my family and me. I didn’t understand the pain that came my way in 2017. I don’t know why He allowed it. But in the end I found peace, I found a calm in the faithfulness of his promises.

I left that moment changed. The pain wasn’t gone, but it was not tinged with bitterness and anger any more. Even friend’s commented in the days that followed that I seemed different.

Just a week later we had a conversation that changed our lives forever… ”I have a friend who is 8 months pregnant, and she wants you to adopt her baby.”

To be continued (I know…soooooo not cool…but it’s just too much of a story for one blog)

the Sun Ring

Guess what….I love jewelrymost of you are not surprised…But, really I do.

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Not because I make it, and not because I grew up and realized how pretty it was, but for my whole entirety of my life I have loved jewelry. Over the last couple of months I have been really analyzing why I love jewelry, why I enjoy making it and collecting it, and wearing it.

I don’t care really how expensive it is, or how fancy…at least not most of the time…because what I love about jewelry is it’s ability to evoke emotions, remind us of people, and stir up forgotten memories…it’s the stories jewelry tells.

In my life my most cherished pieces of jewelry are Ebenezer stones…if you have no idea what I’m talking about check out this post Faith>Fear

For the next couple of weeks I wanted to share with all of you some of the stories behind my favorite pieces. Some remind me of people, some evoke a memory of a place or a moment, then some I bought with the specific intent or purpose of reminding me of a season of my life, a truth of God that I was struggling with, or a pain that I was walking through.


Up first is the very first of my Ebenezer stones…the Sun Ring.

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At 23 I made the decision to not simply trust God with my soul, but with my whole life…. specifically I told Him that if He opened doors I would spend the rest of my life trusting Him and walking through them…the thing was, I was a drunk who found my worth in the way others valued me.
This meant I was daily fighting a war between living out what I knew to be true and good…God loved me, had purpose for my lie, had good plans for me, and I was so incredibly valuable, precious even…and what I felt…alone, insignificant, incredibly insecure, purposeless.
I would decide each day to live trusting the truth, I would tell myself these truths…and then, each day I would fail to trust, slide back into believing lies, and then wake up disappointed, discouraged, and condemned.
So, I decided on a trip to Mexico that what I needed was something physical to remind me of the spiritual decision I had made. It needed to be something I would see and something I would feel.
I remember the moment I saw it, the moment I slipped it on my finger and then held my hand out to examine it.
It was massive on my finger…it spans my entire first knuckle…It was big, and heavy, and it had a sun on it…a reminder that I had chosen to live a life that honors the Son…I would feel it, I would notice if it wasn’t there, I would smack it on things during the day and be reminded of my decision, of my desire…it was PERFECT!
For years I wore that ring, and it serve it’s purpose. At work I would be frustrated and angry and I’d walk quickly past a wall, smack my hand on the brick…I’m a little clumbsy…and remember to choose love, to choose patience.
Sometimes It would pinch my fingers at just the right moment, and when I wasn’t wearing it I felt like I was missing something. It’s presence constantly drew me back to remembering, it kept my mind on choosing love, choosing joy, choosing to trust…choosing to live like Jesus.

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I no longer wear it every day, but those days when I do pick it up and slip it on, I find myself reminded, not just of that moment, or of what it means…but of how I’ve grown, how I’ve changed. I am not the person I was when I bought it…drunk, depressed, alone, scared…love has changed me.
The sun ring no longer reminds me to choose love in the same way it did…before it was kind of a warning, like a silent siren that would go off and remind me I was getting off course…Now it’s a much more gentle reminder…like a soft touch on my shoulder…encouraging me to remember the beautiful change that comes from choosing love.

 

 

Stuck on Saturday

Last week was a hard one for me! I came up against something I wasn’t prepared for, a sudden grief that caught me by surprise and affected me in ways I wasn’t really prepared for.

As I sat in Good Friday service feeling the pain of my own grief, my heart began to understand in new and deeper ways the good in Good Friday, I began to learn a lesson about hope.

What sadness the disciples must have felt, what overwhelming grief Mary had to have experienced as she watched her son upon that cross. But we call it good, because that is what came of it, the goodest good…there ever was…but that Friday…I am confident…it did not feel good.

How awful that Saturday must have been. How painful. How confusing. To think of Mary, who KNEW Jesus was the Messiah. More than anyone else she knew He was the one. Not because of His miracles, not because of His teachings, but because she had been told by an ANGEL.

She had carried him in her womb…yet had done nothing to conceive Him. She raised several children, so she knew how sinful they are…but she watched Him grow up sinless. She knew He was the promised one, she had received a promise, lived it out, seen in so many ways how He was so different…but He had died, she had buried Him.

WHAT? That wasn’t supposed to happen! This wasn’t the way it was suppose to go! This was not what she was promised!

Had God finally given up on them? Had His patience run out? Had His love for His people dried up?

Maybe that’s not what Mary was thinking, but I’m pretty sure it’s what I would have thought.

Honestly, those are the kind of thoughts trying to overwhelm my mind right now. The thoughts that creep in when pain runs deep, when promises seem to be broken, and when what’s happened just doesn’t make sense…when you’re stuck on Saturday. 

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That’s where I am right now…stuck on Saturday. I’m in this place of grief, of pain…of sadness…and my mind is fighting the battle to keep from getting lost in the whys and my heart simply feels too weak to hope.

But…oh how I love when there’s a but…on Sunday the world changed! That glorious Sunday death was conquered, the table was turned on the fate of the souls of men, and hope burst forth victorious.

Saturday was a day that felt so hopeless…but that was not the truth. In fact, the world was pregnant with hope that Saturday. And it wasn’t because the disciples or Mary or anyone else had this great abundance of hope…it says they all left and just went back to life…but in spite of their lack of hope, hope broke through!

I received two beautiful reminders this week before and then after pain came for a visit…

All I need is a tiny bit of courage and He will strengthen my heart!

Hope is not something I need to feel or conjure up. It lives in my heart and remains even when I don’t have the strength to grab hold of it.

I may be stuck on Saturday right now…living in the place between sorrow and joy…but I know true Hope, Hope that does not disappoint, Hope that is more faithful than the morning and in Him my heart takes comfort and finds peace.

Mary didn’t get stuck on Saturday…and neither will I.

 

Legacy

For those of you who follow my Facebook & Instagram feeds, you may have noticed that I’ve been thinking about my Pa a lot lately…actually I’m getting ready to post a piece inspired by him in just a few minutes…I think there are a lot of reasons for this recent nostalgia. For one thing we’ve been cleaning out my Gramy’s apartment and sorting through all of all the things she didn’t take to her new place. In the process we’ve been rediscovering so many of his things; carvings he did, records he loved to listen to.

And we’ve also been discovering for the first time some precious secrets about my Pa, and a secret legacy he left that I never knew about.

My mom discovered that he had printed off and kept every email we’d ever sent him in our journeys around the world. All those years spent separated by oceans and so many miles, he had carefully documented it all.

There was even a file just for me! Every card, graduation announcements, newspaper clippings of articles I wrote in high school and college, and newsletters from the mission field. It was all there, a record of my life.

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My Pa’s response to having only girls…become a boy scout!

I think this sparked nostalgia, and a lot of time spent thinking about my Pa, because more than anyone else I’ve lost, I have regrets about my relationship with him…don’t get me wrong, we had a good relationship…but I feel like I missed out on really knowing him. At his funeral, as I heard all these things being shared about his life and the man he was it hit me…I had missed out.

I should have sat with him more often. I should have asked him more questions. I should have spent less time avoiding his lectures…he was known for his lectures…and spent more time listening to the things he had to say, the wisdom and opinions he had to share.

When he passed I had thought I’d known the legacy he had left behind. There was this incredible legacy of family, a clan of tightly knit people who spent time together outside of major holidays, and who truly love each other. There was his legacy as a maker, and a story teller, and a leader, and an incredible provider, and as a man who loved God…I see pieces of this legacy lived out in the lives and characteristics of his children and grandchildren…but there was a piece of his legacy that I had not known, and it caused me to realize that I could have known him more.

At his funeral stories were shared of this secret. It seems that he was in the habit of walking up to the pastor on a Sunday after church…after hearing someone express a need…and handing him an envelope full of cash with the instruction to keep his identity secret. This habit was news to me…and most of the people there I imagine…and that’s exactly the way he wanted. Even the people he gave to didn’t know who he was.

This man, was not a wealthy man. He was not giving out of abundance, looking for ways to get rid of all the money he had. He was not looking for applaud, or a pat on the back. He was giving because there was a need, and he could, and he made sure his right hand never knew what his left hand was doing.

This is the legacy that he left us…a legacy of humility, integrity, and giving.

It’s fortuitous that I’ve been processing all this as I’ve been refreshing Frippery House. Because it’s helped me to realize something…personally that I want this same legacy…but also that I want Frippery House to be a business that gives…I’m not as incredible as my Pa, because I’m telling you all about it and not keeping it a secret my whole life…but I want you to be a part of this giving, to know the heart and purpose behind why.

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My last photo with Pa, trying to show Gramy how to keep her eyes open in photos.

Because, being a business that gives is not a new concept…being a socially conscious business is maybe even a bit trendy…but the vision of Frippery House is to inspire and to connect people and giving is a natural outflow of that…And, I want to give a bit differently.

So many businesses give to support…or to end…social issues, and while Frippery House will do this as well, we’re going to do it in a very different way. You see, to those who live among refugees, who run orphanages or take orphans into their homes, who live and work daily among women working in the sex trade, or who provide love and care for those who have been returned home after being trafficked…to those people these things are not merely “social issues”.

They are people, with stories, with hurts, with joys…with lives. 

So, here’s how giving is going to look at Frippery House…a portion of EVERY jewelry purchase will be given to someone…or somefamily…actively living their lives to love and serve others. We will be supporting “social issues” by supporting, loving, and encouraging those who spend their days living them.

This may mean the money they are given is spent on a trip outside of the war zone they live in, so that they can be reminded that life is not all pain and trauma, so that they can refresh and continue on. It may be spent on a massage, dinner with a friend, or even a new homeschool curriculum.

This money will be given to them for their personal needs and care, because we believe that life is not about connecting with “social issues” but with people. It’s because we believe a life surrendered to God’s call, living and loving people on every corner of this earth is what we are called to…and we want to be a part of supporting those who are doing just this…and we want you to join us.

 

Look for a blog post coming soon that details who Frippery House will be giving to!

 

Is it harder?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about throwing in the towel, closing this joint down, and pretending like this blog never even happened. Because, my life isn’t that interesting, and what could I really even have to say, and being open with all of you is HARD!

And then, as I’m going about my day something strikes me. A thought, a phrase, a situation that brings my heart joy or deep grief…and I find myself wanting to share this thing with you, to encourage you or challenge you…maybe sometimes even to make you laugh.

So, after weeks of silence this is where I find myself, with a thought that I want to share with you so badly that I’ve decided to allow you to see into my heart a little bit.

I have had this thought for a week or so…or this stream of thoughts really…about adoption, and parenting, and teenagers…I feel like I’m ALWAYS sharing about this, but this is my reality so it probably is going to be something I talk about…anyways, back to the thought.

It began as I left a brief conversation with a kind and loving woman that left me a bit unsettled…not angry and not hurt, it’s just that something about the conversation didn’t sit right with me…it’s a conversation I’ve had before, and the words she said I will most likely hear again.

“Adopting a teenager is such a hard thing to do.”

Why does this statement bug me so much? It’s true. Adopting a teenager is hard. But, I think what bugs me about it is the implication that adopting a teenager is somehow harder than adopting an infant, a child, or having a biological child…but is it?

Is there some sort of scale I don’t know about, some sort of system for quantifying and measuring the difficulties of parenting that I have been left in the dark about? Do biological moms sit around discussing their child raising and the one that has it the easiest gets some sort of all expenses paid trip to a private island, and poor me doesn’t even get to be in the running for it because I adopted a teenager (insert dramatic music here)!?!

Sure, there are things that are harder. Walking through his grief and trauma with him is hard. When behavioral issues arise, weeding through what’s learned, what’s instinctive, and what’s teenager is challenging.

The moment I became a mom was hard. It wasn’t simply an elated moment of joy where the child I had spent 9 months growing and loving finally arrived. Instead it was a moment where the child I had spent years praying for and loving from a distance was finally here, and that moment of joy was shared with deep grief, because to acknowledge me as mom means to recognize the loss of the two moms that came before me. The moment I became his mom meant choosing to open my heart fully, to love him with abandon as a mom should, and then to grow into that in time…and to pray he would choose to love me back…it is still a bit terrifying! So yeah, that’s hard.

But, how do I quantify if this is harder than parenting any other child, if these pains are worse than having the child of your womb telling you they hate you…because I’m pretty sure that HURTS!!!

Then, this week, clarity came in the form of a shared video on FaceBook and I heard these beautiful words…

“Healthy seems easier, healthy seems normal, healthy seems nice. What I didn’t know then is that easy, and normal, and nice would do little to make me a better and more complete human being.” Heather Avis watch the video here

Those two sentences welled up a crazy mix of emotions in my heart and I found myself overwhelmed with grief and joy…seriously, I can’t even write about it or re-watch the video without becoming a crying mess…they are written not about teenagers, but about adoption in general, and adopting children with special needs specifically. But, they spoke so clearly to my heart because I suddenly realized why that statement above had bothered me so much…

IT’S A LIE

It’s not harder…it’s scarier, more complicated, messier, and abnormal.

But so many of us have bought into the lie that somehow adopting older children is harder. Adopting children with special needs is harder. And when faced with the opportunity or the challenge this is the lie that many of us tell ourselves to justify inaction…I’m so guilty of this when it comes to special needs.

But, the truth is, our lives were never meant to be about easy, simple, or normal. 

My mom-ness may be more complicated than most. I may not have memories of my child as an infant or toddler. I didn’t hear his first words, or see when he took his first steps. I wasn’t there to send him off to his first day of school. But I have been given an incredible gift. Because when those moments come when I’m discouraged…as they do for all parents…when I feel inadequate, and like there’s no way I can be the parent I need to be, there is a sudden gust of wind that rushes in and lifts me back up and reminds me…I was chosen for this…I was chosen for him…he was chosen for me.

Is adopting a teenager hard…yes. Is raising a young man hard…yes! Is being a parent hard…YES!

But this was never meant to be about simple and easy. Because what growth, what depth, what demonstration of true love ever came out of simple and easy?