12.21.16

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life…

Everly was due on December 29th. I had convinced myself she would be 2 weeks early and when the 2 week date passed, I started to prepare myself for the very real possibility that she could come the 29th or later.

On Wednesday, December 21st at around 11:30am our social worker called and told us that Mama J, who was visiting her family in Denver, was at the hospital in labor! We packed and got ready, grabbed some food and hit the road. Surprise #1- we would be in Denver, Colorado and not Wyoming.  This was particularly wonderful because it meant Mama J would be with her family through this process as they live in Denver.

We booked a hotel near the hospital and assumed we would be going straight there and spend the next 48 hours there until we could meet Everly.

Mama J’s mother was texting me and giving me updates on how things were going. When we were about an hour and a half away, she told us we should come straight to the hospital. Surprise #2- we would be meeting Everly right away.

One thing I really wanted was to be able to have a friend of ours photograph our first moments of meeting our daughter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an option. I had put it to rest and was fine with that. While driving we received a text from Mama J’s mother asking if we’d like a friend of theirs, who is a professional photographer, to take pictures for us! Surprise #3. God was in EVERY detail.

We got to the hospital Wednesday night about 2 hours after Everly was born. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but from the moment we walked in it felt like we were all family. Mama J’s parents were there and 2 of her sisters. The nurses immediately referred to us as her “parents”. The hospital was amazing. They said they’d done adoptions before but never where everyone was so open. They offered us a room to stay in but we declined. We wanted to give Mama J some room to enjoy her time with baby girl and not feel pressure knowing we were in a room on the same floor.

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I will never forget walking into that room and seeing Mama J nursing Everly. I thought I would feel strange or jealous but all I felt was pure joy and love…for both of them. Surprise #4-Mama J had them give me a hospital bracelet to match Everly’s. It was completely unexpected and made my heart soar. We stayed at the hospital for a few hours and then headed to our hotel to get some rest.
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Dec 22- Thursday morning we returned to the hospital. It was so special for us when Mama J told us she had the nurses wait to give Everly her bath because she figured we would want to be there. It was the first time Elliot and I got to be with Everly alone (minus the nurse who gave her her sponge bath 🙂 ). We hung out at the hospital for a few more hours. Our plan was to go, have dinner and return. But once we left I felt like we should hang back and let Mama J have that last night with Everly.
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That would be our last night as just the two of us. We went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and saw a movie. All we did was talk about Everly and we couldn’t wait for our lives to change forever.
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Dec 23- Friday morning we returned to the hospital. It was discharge day and the social worker would be there soon to start the paperwork and to have the entrustment ceremony. Before arriving, she called me to tell me that miraculously ICPC had cleared us to return to SOUTH DAKOTA. BEFORE WE WERE EVEN DISCHARGED. We had been told we would have to head back to Wyoming with Everly to wait for ICPC to clear, since that is technically where the adoption was taking place. Surprise #5! Our agency said that had never happened before and it was a Christmas miracle!


After all of the paperwork was signed, Mama J’s family came to the hospital for the entrustment ceremony. It was so beautiful. Heartbreaking, yet full of love and joy. The ceremony consists of prayer, some words of affirmation spoken over Mama J, blessings spoken over Everly and Mama J literally placing her into our arms, entrusting her to us. I have never met a more beautiful, brave, selfless person.

We left the hospital as a family of 3. We spent the night at the hotel and drove home the next day, Christmas Eve, with our Christmas miracle.

Our entire adoption process can be summed up in this- we were OVERTAKEN by the goodness of God.

Everly Hope-

I may not have carried you in my womb for 9 months, but I’ve carried you as a dream in my heart for as long as I can remember.
I may not have  stretch marks on my body, but my faith has been stretched while believing for you.
I may not have labored physically with you, but I’ve labored for you through prayer and tears for over a decade.

You, are our promise fulfilled.
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The Match

“See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I feel guilty saying this but it’s our story- the adoption process was pretty easy for us. So easy in fact, I kept waiting for the ground to drop from underneath me until the day she was in our arms.

However, if you don’t know our story, here’s what you need to know- our journey before we started the adoption process was anything but easy. For over 10 years we prayed and believed God to get pregnant. For over 10 years I watched woman after woman, friend after friend, couple after couple, get pregnant. I attended and/or was invited to baby shower after baby shower. I endured pregnancy announcements, maternity photos and baby announcements filling my Facebook and Instagram feeds. I cried and begged and pleaded with God to give us a baby! Our marriage suffered because of it. Some of my friendships suffered because of it.  It was such a long, hard road with what at times, felt like no relief in sight. I believed and I didn’t believe. I was faithful and I was faithless. I had hope and felt hopeless. I rejoiced with others at times and envied pregnant mamas at other times. All I ever wanted, my entire life, was to be a Mother. I knew it was what I was made for.

In April 2015, Elliot and I visited Bethany Christian Services in Rapid City, got the necessary paperwork and started the very beginning stage of the adoption process. But I had NO peace. I was a mess. I could not get my heart to be on board with it. So we stopped. We knew we couldn’t pursue adoption without complete assurance that it was God’s will at the time.

In October 2015 while in North Carolina for our annual Missions Conference, a dear friend gave us a word that God was going to overtake us with His goodness in the coming year.

Fast forward to April 2016. I had started to feel the nudge to pursue adoption again. But this time, I had peace. Total peace. Within a day of making that decision, someone dropped off $500, unbeknownst to them that it was the cost of the application fee :). We knew from the absolute beginning it was God’s timing.

On August 13th, we dropped off our profile books at our agency. The books would be at the Rapid City office and an office in Wyoming. We were told the legal risk time for birth parents to change their minds was about 6 weeks in South Dakota and before discharge in Wyoming. I made my request to God that we would be chosen by a birth mother in Wyoming.

You should know there were 4 desires I had made known to the Lord:

1. I wanted a baby from Wyoming.
2. We would love ANY child but hoped for an ethnic/transracial baby. Please don’t be offended by that 🙂
3. I desperately/secretly wanted a girl.
4. I wanted a baby for Christmas.

On August 26th we received a phone call from our wonderful social worker saying an expectant mother saw our profile book and was interested in meeting us. Cue the tears. She was in Wyoming, was Filipino, having a girl, and due December 29th. Not quite Christmas, but close enough :).

It took another week to schedule a meeting for the 2nd week in September. Sadly, the expectant mother had a death in the family and our meeting was understandably put on hold. We were kind of in limbo for a bit as we needed to give her time to mourn and deal with all that came along with that, while knowing our book wasn’t being shown to anyone during that time. Toward the end of September our meeting had been rescheduled and we were set to meet October 4th. Lets just say September was a LONG month for us :).

We drove to Wyoming the night before our meeting, spent the night at a beautiful B&B and headed to the meeting the next day. We were meeting Mama J and her social worker at a coffee shop. Elliot and I arrived a little earlier to grab something to eat but I was so nauseous I couldn’t eat a thing.

They arrived and Mama J was so warm and friendly. We talked for a while and I was so thankful her social worker was there to help facilitate. Long story short, or shorter, she told us then and there that she knew we were the ones when she saw our book and that she’d chosen us. Thinking back to that meeting brings tears to my eyes.

We talked some more and discussed her birth plan and her wishes for her hospital stay. She expressed that she wanted to be with the baby the first 48 hours and we would see her after that. I would be lying if I said this didn’t scare the crap out of us. It definitely isn’t what we would’ve chosen but we respected her wishes and moved forward trusting God. Mama J and I exchanged numbers and texted at least once a week until Everly was born.

Open adoption is beautiful.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I share Everly’s birth story and how things didn’t exactly go according to plan, in the best possible way.

Stolen Joy

I have said to my husband many times, “I don’t know how people get through anything without Jesus, much less the adoption process.” And I don’t mean an abstract, say a little now I lay me down to sleep prayer. I mean a real love relationship in which you speak to God and He speaks to you. I can not live without Him and I don’t want to.

That was a little bit of a tangent before I start this post 🙂 . Most of us have seen the quote out there that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Before we started the adoption process, I allowed my joy to be stolen many times by comparing my life and situation to so many other people. Mainly, pregnancy announcements, bump pictures, birth stories, etc. While social media can be a force for good, it has also been a huge tool for the “thief” to come in and steal.

I realize I had a silly mindset when I started the adoption process. I thought the comparison thing was going to be done with. I had finally come to a place in my heart where I was fully content with where we were in life and how God was leading us into this new adventure. I am a researcher. My husband laughs at me :). If we are taking a trip, I’m on trip advisor checking out the best restaurants, places to visit, where to stay, etc. So when we started the adoption process, it was no different. I find myself living in the domestic adoption and adoption rocks hashtags on Instagram.

I have joined a wonderful community where people are able to share the joys and struggles with others who are in similar situations and there is so much strength in that. However, as I started “meeting” all these new people, that thief started to rear his ugly head one more time. I started to see people who were in the same stage as we are with entire nurseries completed, stocked with clothes, diapers, etc. Where we, on the other hand, don’t have a single piece of furniture in ours. I would see people launching the same exact fundraisers that we’ve done and seemingly having much better results. Their t-shirts are selling much more quickly than ours, their garage sale made triple what ours did, they only have a few puzzle pieces left to sell….and the list could go on and on.

I started to lose sleep. To be anxious. To feel depressed. My mind began to fill with thoughts of, “Should we really be doing this? Can we even afford a baby? What were we thinking? Are we being irresponsible? We are so stupid to think we could do this.” I knew what was happening. I knew I was letting comparison not only rob me of my joy but also my peace. I had taken my eyes off of God and His promises and started looking around at everyone else and the situation in front of me. I was allowing myself to forget how wonderfully God has already been providing, each step of the way, and how He spoke so very clearly to us when we started this process.

I have had to choose joy, hope and faith every day. Some days I literally breathe in God’s peace and exhale worry, fear and anxiety. One thing I know for sure, whether I always feel it or not, is that God is with us. He is with our baby. He is with our birth mom. This is His will. He is and will continue to be faithful. He is writing our story. It won’t look like anyone else’s and it will be perfect. He will provide every single thing our baby needs. He will receive all of the glory from our lives and we look forward in expectation and anticipation of all that He is going to do!

 

Adoption Info & Update

Since we’ve announced our adoption, many of you have asked for more details so I decided my blog will be a good place to keep you all up to date :).

I figured one of the easiest ways to start would be with a little Q&A with the questions we get asked the most–

  1. When did you start the adoption process? We actually considered starting the adoption process in January 2015. We went to the agency and met with their staff and even filled out the preliminary application. However, over the next several months I had absolutely no peace in my heart. That’s actually putting it mildly. I felt like I was in turmoil. For whatever reason I could not commit with my whole heart. Long story short, we decided to put it all on hold. At the end of March 2016 (just a few months ago), something shifted in my heart and I knew now was the time. I talked it over with Elliot and we agreed to move forward. Within a few days of us making that decision, we received a check for $500 from a friend who had no idea what was going on. $500 was the amount needed to submit our formal application to the agency and get the process rolling. We knew God was confirming what we felt in our hearts. We submitted our application the first week of April.

2. Domestic or International? We are adopting domestically.

3. Are you adopting a newborn? Yes, we are! We may even be able to pick him/her up straight from the hospital.

4. Boy or girl? We have no idea! We are open to either gender 🙂

5. Where are you in the process? The best way for me to explain the process is to say there are basically 4 phases: 1. Application, References, Lots of Paperwork. 2. Homestudy. 3. Going into the “pool” to be chosen and being matched. and 4. Placement :). We are nearing the end of phase 1 and will be starting the home study phase soon. Once we pass our home study and are placed in the pool, things can move pretty quickly. This is a major reason we are hoping/trying/working toward having all the money we need by the time we finish our home study phase.

6. What is the cost? The cost is around $25,000-$30,000. Here is an estimated breakdown of the costs:

Home study Fee $3,000; Program Fee I $7,000; Program Fee II (when child is placed) $8,500; Post Placement Report Fee $2,000; Legal fees and misc. fees (medical expenses for birth mother and/or baby) $5,000-$8,000.

We hope this helps to answer any questions you might have. Thank you for coming along on this journey with us. We are so grateful to have so many people loving us and rooting us on!

Please, please pray for us! Pray for our birth family and our baby. We can only imagine what our birth mom is facing and are so thankful to her for choosing LIFE…whoever she is :).

Feel free to ask any questions you might have!

Here is the link to donate to bringing Baby M home-

www.fire-international.org/donate.php

Also- see the post before this one for information on our first fundraiser!

 

 

Be a piece of our puzzle!

 

***Our First Fundraiser***

We are kicking off our first fundraiser for Baby M and it’s one that is near and dear to our hearts!
We have created a 252 piece picture puzzle with our “Worth Every Penny” announcement photo. It works like this:

1. We are “selling” each piece for $25. You can choose to buy 1, 2, 3, or 10 pieces! There is no limit! If you would like to participate but can’t pay $25, do what you can! We’d love to include you!

2. To purchase- click on this link and be sure to put “Morales Puzzle” in the comment box. If you would like to mail us payment, message me and I’ll send you our address.

www.fire-international.org/donate.php

3. Once you purchase a piece, comment here or message me and we will write your name on the back of the puzzle piece(s) and send you a picture. If you’d like to include a scripture reference as well, let me know 

4. Once every single piece has been “sold”, we will put the puzzle together and hang it in a double-sided glass frame in our baby’s room. We will be able to look back and read to Baby M all the people who helped bring him/her home .

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We Are Adopting!

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We are so excited!

We never dreamt when we got married 11 years ago that we would be “1 in 8”, the 1 in 8 couples facing infertility. Through LOTS of prayer, tears, and a journey of walking through this with the Lord, we know that He is calling us to adopt! We are so excited about the baby God has for us! We have begun the adoption process through Bethany Christian Services, a great agency close to our home. Right now we are nearing the end phase of applications, references, fingerprints, and background checks and are hoping to begin the home study phase soon.

Adoption is quite costly (the gravity of that statement is not lost on me). Our adoption will likely cost an estimated $30,000. You often hear the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it is going to take a village to bring home Baby “M”! We are hoping that you would pray about giving and be a part of our baby’s village.

We have set up a fund through our mission’s organization, FIRE International. We are going this route instead of using a fundraising site for two reasons. First, every donation you make will be tax deductible. Second, we will get the most money from each donation going this route. After fees and taxes, you can end up losing quite a bit with the other sites.  We will be naming our baby after the person who gives the largest donation! Just kidding! Maybe!  It depends on what your name is :).

Additionally, we will be having some fundraisers in the next few months to raise money as well, so be on the lookout for them!

I will try not to bombard your social media too much, but this fierce Mama’s heart has already kicked in; and I’m willing to move mountains to bring home our baby J.

Please feel free to click the link below to donate toward Baby M. Be sure to put in “Morales Adoption” in the Missionary/Project box.

Lastly, thank you for rejoicing with us! We are confident that this was never God’s plan B, but rather His best plan all along!

www.fire-international.org/donate.php

Bitter 16

March 23rd will mark 16 years since my mother died. 16 years since our lives were changed forever and a hole was made in our hearts. Every year hurts but this year….this year means that I have lived longer without her than with her. When I realized that a couple of nights ago it was as though my heart broke into a thousand pieces all over again.

I’m the first of my siblings to reach this marker in life and wonder if they will share a similar experience. It’s such a strange feeling and I’m not quite sure how to navigate through it. Mostly, I want to freeze time….I don’t want to move forward. I don’t want to have a greater number of memories of life without her than with her.

But time, as we know, waits for no man. It continues on. And so does she. She is forever with us. She lives on in me…in my siblings..in her grandchildren. We carry her with us. And while it will never be enough..it will never be the same as having her physically present to hold, to hug, to kiss….it is what we are left with. And it will have to do.

So I make a choice. To think of her daily. To remember her smile and her laugh. To appreciate all that she instilled in us; especially her strength. And to live my life in such a way that she would be proud.

Mommy-

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

E.E. Cummings

 

 

In The Waiting

A few nights ago I was lying in bed and I heard the Lord say, “I’m with you in the waiting.” I should probably tell you I was lying in bed imagining what it would be like to tell my friends and family we were pregnant. Dreaming up different ways I would do it, who we would tell first, what their reactions would be, etc. I try not to think about those things too much so as to not set myself up for disappointment, but there are some days that I just can’t help it. And it was in the midst of that that He spoke to me. “I’m with you in the waiting.”

You know when you’re watching a movie or a TV show and there’s a hospital scene where people are waiting for a loved one who is in surgery? I immediately had that picture in my head; a picture of a waiting room. They are usually surrounded by people who love them, people who will go out of their way to just sit there with them…sometimes not even saying anything…but just be there. Waiting there with them. And even though they may not be able to do anything…just their presence is enough.

And I saw myself- in this waiting room of life and Jesus was sitting with me.

There are days when the ache in my heart is so deep that I can only cry. Days when all I can do is long for the time when I’ll get to experience what so many women around me have had the privilege of experiencing- Motherhood. Sleepless nights, sheer exhaustion, pure joy, a love like no other….spit up, diaper explosions, little coos and smiles, little fingers grabbing on to yours…all of it. There are days when it feels so close and days when it seems like it will only ever be a dream.

We minister in an area where children are abused daily. Where some are seen as a means to get money. Where they walk around filthy, with cigarette burns and diapers that are almost literally hanging on the ground because they are so full and haven’t been changed since who knows when. And if I’m not careful I can get bitter with God- angry even and start to ask questions that I’ll never get answers to. The big one being “why would you give them children when they don’t even take care of them but you haven’t given us children when we have so much love to give?”

So what do I do? I choose hope. Again. And again. And again. I choose to trust in God’s unfailing love. I choose to trust in His character- He is GOOD. Always. No matter what my circumstances try to tell me.

And I remember His faithfulness in my life. I look back and I think of all the times He has provided for me….love, comfort, peace, joy, salvation. And my heart is full again. I remember the prayers He has answered. And I’m strengthened to believe again..one day at a time. And in His kindness He speaks to me…when I’m not even asking. And He reminds me that He is with me in the waiting. And that is enough for me in this moment. He is with me. The God of heaven, is with ME.