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 🙂

 

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?

…HOPE…

I’ve been seeing lots of posts in the last week about people choosing 1 word to define their 2017…I guess it’s the new resolution…and while at first I thought it was a little bit silly and a bit lazy…how much easier is it to pick a word than set an actual goal…but then I realized that I have a word…HOPE.

It’s not a magical word that suddenly became meaningful or important as the clock struck midnight on 12/31/2016…in fact my most recent tattoo and a recent blog post Faith>Fear are both focused on HOPE…but it is the word I want to hold on to as I walk boldly into 2017.

Four years ago Ian and I were waiting for a child. We didn’t know how God would choose to bring this child to us…but we knew there would be a child. We didn’t know when He would bring our child to us…but we knew there would be a child.

 And then sometimes I didn’t know…sometimes I doubted. Sometimes I felt it would never happen…the obstacles seemed too great. Sometimes fear took over and it drove out hope and I found myself afraid to even speak my desires for fear of the pain that would come with failure.

One night Ian and I had the privilege of speaking with a couple that had adopted. They shared their story with us, it was powerful and incredible, but then at the end of the conversation the husband said something that spoke straight to my heart…and continues to run through my mind over and over…

“Don’t be afraid to hope.”

That moment changed my heart. I decided to share with people the things God had put on my heart, I began to speak openly about our path to pursue adoption. When God began to place specifics on our hearts about a 12 year old boy, HOPE is what gave me the boldness to pray for my child, to begin to write him letters, and to share with others to pray for him…because I knew there was a child.

Our boy would have come to us even if I doubted…but would I have been ready for him, would I have been so quick to answer the call…how many people got to see this AMAZING thing God did, because I choose not to be afraid…because I choose to HOPE.

A few months ago “don’t be afraid to HOPE” began playing in my head again…over and over and over…I don’t know if this is the year we grow. I don’t know when or where the next Dizon is coming from, I don’t know how old…or even how many…their will be this time…but I know there will be more children.

I will not be afraid to HOPE!
I will cling to HOPE with all my might!

I will remind myself that my HOPE lies outside of life’s circumstances, that my HOPE is constant and steady, that with all 2017 throws at me…good, bad, disappointing, joyous, and painful…that HOPE will remain.

This may seem crazy to some of you…most of you…but I know I have more children, I know some of them are already in this world and my heart is sick from waiting for them…but I will HOPE and I will trust God’s perfect timing.

Please join my family as we pray for direction, timing, and provision on bringing more of our children home. Step 1 is finishing the basement so we have room for more.