Why the Greatest Day Will Also Be the Worst Day

There are many people that have been very influential in the course of our adoption process thus far. None however, as influential as our Social Worker. For the sake of protecting her privacy, I will refer to her as D. D is one of the sweetest humans I’ve ever met, but this is not the reason that I love her so much. I love her because she is so unbelievably real, even when it hurts.

As we have just recently completed our one year home study update, we were able to meet with D and discuss our upcoming homecoming for Maverick. While it would seem that this would be a discussion all about love and happy times and sunshine and rainbows, it actually is a very difficult discussion to have. Because it’s a discussion about the worst day in my child’s life so far.

When we very first met our social worker, she said something to me that absolutely rocked my world. She instructed us to think of ourselves as legal kidnappers. We are going into our child’s home, taking him away from the only parents he’s ever known, bringing him to a different country where people look different, talk different, eat different, and we say “hey this is your new home, you should be so happy and grateful!” But here’s the thing, he shouldn’t HAVE TO be anything! He should be allowed to act or feel any way he needs to, because his period of coming home to us will be a time filled with grief.

Maverick’s foster parents have been a crucial part of his world for a year and a half now. They ARE his parents right now. Even though we all know that this is a temporary placement, he can’t possibly understand that concept at his young age. To him, he is home. And to him, we are strangers who are pulling him away from that home. As much as this concept is so painful to think about, it’s so important that adoptive parents GET that concept before bringing their child home. We need to mentally and emotionally and spiritually prepare to be rejected, cried on, screamed at, etc. It may not all happen, but it might. And that has to be okay. And we have to be okay. We won’t be. But with God’s help, we can get there.

Eventually, we will come out of the grieving period. We will prove ourselves trustworthy over time. We will show our little boy that we are good, we will provide for him, that we love him more than words can express. But, in the beginning, when we’re experiencing these growing pains, we covet the prayers of our friends. I will appreciate every text and phone call of encouragement. Every random coffee delivery and friendly face. Because it’ll be a time of adjustment and transition for us all. But gosh am I ready. I want that day to come more than I ever have. Let’s get this baby boy home!!! πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

But why Korea?

By and large, the feedback that we’ve gotten throughout this adoption has been AMAZING. I honestly can’t say enough about our family and friends who have prayed with us, partnered with us financially, cried with us, celebrated with us. I truly get weepy when I think of how much we’ve been supported through this process. If you are one of those tremendous individuals, THANK YOU!!! From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Right now I want to take time though to answer a question that we’ve been presented with a lot. And it typically comes in two parts:

1) Why did you choose Korea?

Very quickly followed up by

2) There’s so many kids in need of homes in the US. Why not a domestic adoption instead?

Let me say this first: that is a completely valid and true statement. There are SO MANY KIDS in need of adoption here. However, there are also SO MANY KIDS in need of adoption internationally as well. Does Maverick deserve to be adopted any less just because he was born in a different country than me? Personally, I don’t think so. The real reason behind our choice to adopt from Korea though is this: Obedience! I have felt a nudging from the Lord from a very young age to pursue an international adoption. That actually was a “deal breaker” for me when dating. I needed a spouse who not only was ok with that, but also felt a call to it. John knew in his heart also that God had wanted that for him too. Maverick has always been part of the plan!

When we first set out to adopt, I actually had my heart set on Africa. I had always thought that’s where I would adopt from and began pursuing it almost immediately. Let me tell you something, Africa is a TOUGH place to adopt from right now. Almost no countries have open programs and the ones that do only want to adopt out kids who are 10 or older or have tons of health issues. Not that we don’t think those kids need families, but we have our own kids to consider. We needed to be sensitive to what we (they) could handle! So very quickly I realized I needed God’s guidance on this thing.

Ok Lord, You brought us this far, I need You to tell me where to go. Out of the 6 countries we were pre-approved for, it was like all signs just blatantly pointed to Korea! Let me tell you why that’s crazy. Never did I have a feeling or pulling towards Asia. Like ever. Was not even on my radar! Also, Korea almost exclusively adopts out boys and I thought I wanted a girl. I love when God knows us better than we know ourselves. And lastly, it was the most expensive country on our list!!! Like hello! Way to throw us the biggest curveball ever God! This thing had to be bathed in prayer from the beginning. But time after time after time, we’ve gotten confirmation that this is what we were called to do. My dreams of a little African girl quickly drifted away as soon as I laid eyes on our son. Oh y’all, he is just the most perfect little guy. Everything about him makes me gush with pride and love. He is MINE and there was no denying that. People have even commented many times that somehow he looks like a Wheeler! Lol. And he really does somehow! God is so cool like that.

That’s honestly it. Obedience and walking out what we feel God has lead us to has brought us to this point. I do want to say though, I think every adoption is miraculous and unbelievably amazing! If you feel called to a domestic adoption, that’s incredible! If you feel lead to foster or foster to adopt, wow! What an amazing calling! If you feel lead to adopt an older child or a child with special needs, you are an incredible human and I’m so thrilled for you! Adoption is ALWAYS A MIRACLE. No matter where the child comes from, no matter what the circumstances or situation. It is truly incredible and I urge you if you do feel called to it, pursue it. I’m always here to answer questions or point you in the direction of someone more knowledgeable to answer questions, because I believe every kiddo deserves a forever home and anything I can do to help that happen, I want to do! β€οΈπŸ’™πŸ‡°πŸ‡·

Why your best intentioned question causes me so much heartache

Here we are. Almost 2 years after starting this adoption process. So much closer to bringing home our little guy, and yet it still feels so unbelievably far away. This process is like no other journey I’ve ever been on. The emotional highs are SO high, and yet the lowest of times are sometimes unbearably low. I have felt so much joy during these last 2 years, but I’ve also cried a lot of tears. So. Many. Tears. I’ve gotten angry at the system, at God, at people. And it all pretty much comes back to one common theme of why: TIME.

My timeline for this journey looks nothing like what it is in reality. In my totally made up fantasies, we breeze through a few months of waiting and poof! Everything is great, we have our son, it’s all good. But, much to my impatient little heart’s discontent, this is not at all what international adoption looks like. Not even in the least.

We get the questions most often: so what’s taking so long? Why can’t they just give him to you already? How much longer?

Let me just be really real here. If you know a family in the waiting portion of an adoption, please, PLEASE find some other things to ask as well. I know people are so excited for the child to come home and they just are being genuine and loving in asking, but for an adoptive parent, these questions are like knives to the heart. I think about those questions hourly. Time is all that seems to be on my mind lately. I don’t need another reminder. Questions like: how can we pray for you? Are y’all getting the room and everything prepared yet? How can we help you once he’s here? THOSE are the questions adoptive parents want and need to hear. And let me share why.

Here’s a little snapshot of the process in a very tight nutshell:

1) pre-application process to find out if you’re even qualified to adopt and if so, from what countries. That’s right. There were MANY countries that I was disqualified from because of my age, how long we’ve been married, the fact that we have white, biological children in our home. Every country has different rules and they do not bend them.

2) choose your country. We took into account travel requirements, age of the child that we were seeking to adopt, how long an adoption takes from said country. Ultimately through careful consideration and prayer, we chose Korea.

3) start raising finances to fund your adoption. An adoption from Korea is about 40,000 dollars and most people don’t just have that money laying around. It takes time.

4) home study! Now this is one bullet point, but within this one thing is many other sub points. Background checks (both federal and state), medical exams for our whole family, vaccination records for our dog, home visits, 5 references, psychological evaluations, tax records, financial statements, birth certificates, marriage license, etc etc. Finishing a home study feels like completing an ultra marathon. It’s just so much stuff.

5) home study gets approved. Home study approval is a huge step because it means that you’re officially eligible for a child match. Now being eligible certainly does not mean you’re getting matched right away. No, no. That takes another several months. Meanwhile, you’re dealing with immigration here in the US making sure you have everything ready to go for when you get matched.

6) MATCH DAY! Basically one of THE most amazing days in the adoption process. Getting to see YOUR child for the first time, the feeling is unlike any other. It’s truly so special.

7) accept match and file more immigration paperwork. Yes more paperwork. There’s always more.

8) submit dossier. This is everything that was in the home study and then some. It’s what gets submitted to the courts and embassy that shows them that we are capable of raising this child. In Korea, once your dossier is sent, you must wait another 4-6 months for it to be translated and officially submitted (this is where we are currently at in the process!!).

9) Dossier is approved and court date is set. Once the dossier is submitted, it takes about 2-3 months for it to be approved, then we’ll be set up for our first court date, which means we will also schedule our first travel to Korea!

10) Travel for court and embassy interviews. Our first travel will be both John and I and we will have to be in Korea for about 10 days. During this time, we will appear in court, have interviews and at Korean Embassy, and most importantly MEET MAVERICK πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

11) Come home and wait. We will come home for about 4-6 weeks before my mom and I will travel back to get Maverick and bring him home.

I hope this sheds some light on that dreaded question: what’s taking so long?? My goal here really is just to show everyone who hasn’t been through an international adoption exactly what goes on. It’s a crazy list of stuff, and this is definitely the cheat sheet version, but I hope in some way it helps people to understand where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going in all of this. It’s definitely not a process for the faint of heart, but gosh is it going to be so worth it.

How to clean your house when you’re no Cinderella

Most moms can agree that they all wish they had more of one thing…TIME! We can all continue to hold out for that time multiplication machine that we’re all hoping will be invented soon. But, until that happens, I want to try and help you “multiply” your time by making the most of it in one key area: CLEANING!

Most people who walk in my house ask me one question almost immediately: how do you keep your house so clean with kiddos?! Now, of course my house is going to be a little more spotless when we’re expecting lots of company. But, on a regular basis, my house does stay very tidy. And I contribute that to a few small things that I believe make a big difference!

β€’ We don’t wait to clean messes! When we cook, when we do crafts, when we take a bunch of toys out, we don’t leave our mess out with the intention of going back to it later. When you or your kiddos make a mess, make it a point to clean it up right then. It’s much easier to clean up several little messes throughout your day versus having 20 messes to clean up all at once later.

β€’ Less is more! Filling your house with tons of furniture, knick nacks, and unnecessary stuff makes it feel cluttered and not tidy. My house has decor, don’t get me wrong, but we choose to be pretty minimalist with our furniture and decorating. This is especially important when it comes to things that sit on the floor. Tons of baskets, floor lamps, rugs, tables; they’re just making your house feel smaller and not as clean. Try going vertical in your organization by putting things either on the wall or in a wall organizer of some sort. And if you can live without that floor lamp, just get rid of it!

β€’ Teach your kiddos young to get involved and stay tidy too! I still remember one night coming home from being out on a date and our babysitter being completely dumbfounded at my kiddos bedtime routine. When she asked them to take their clothes off to put their jammies on, they both immediately took off their clothes and put them into the washer. She said “most kids just throw their clothes on the floor! That’s so crazy they do that on their own!” But you see, my kids don’t realize that’s even an option! They know if the washer is open, their clothes go in there. If it’s closed, their clothes go in the hamper. They also always clear their own plates and cups and put them into the sink. Any little jobs that you can give your kids to do takes that job away from you, and makes them feel good to have some responsibility! If you haven’t started these habits young, that’s ok! Start implementing them now!

β€’ Realize it won’t be perfect, but it can be clean! Your house isn’t going to look like a magazine. The people in magazines even say their homes don’t look like what they do photography day! Perfection isn’t the goal. But a clean and tidy house can promote less anxiety, a more peaceful environment, and a place where items can be found easily because things are put back where they belong. If this all seems overwhelming, just try adding in one thing every week to your daily schedule that you didn’t do before. Maybe this week you add in making beds in the morning. Then next week you add in keeping dishes out of the sink. Make it attainable for you and don’t get down on yourself if you have days where it just doesn’t happen.

Let me know if you have any tips or tricks of your own to help keep your home a clutter free and peaceful space! And let me know if you implement any of these ideas for your own home as well! I’d love to hear what works or doesn’t work for you.

New Year, New Thoughts, and New Direction.

Holy Cow! What a whirlwind of a holiday season it has been. I apologize for not writing more over the last month, but honestly I was just trying to enjoy holiday break with my kiddos and relax a little. I’m back though! And yes I did say “I” and not “we”, which brings me to my first point of writing this post.

When we started this venture of RbG, it was a joint venture, shared by myself (Sarabeth) and Carolyn. Our goal was to inspire moms with our day to day victories and not so victorious moments and provide a little realness that mommies could relate to. While that is still a huge goal of mine, the direction of the blog is shifting ever so slightly, and with it, Carolyn has felt a grace to move on and not be an actively involved participant. We didn’t have a falling out or anything like that. She just realized with taking on a pretty time consuming job and preparing for the birth of the 3rd baby (yay!!) that she couldn’t be as involved as she would like to be and so she felt it best to lay this down. She’ll still write for me as a guest on occasion and she’s still an amazing friend that I cherish so so much!

Now! For the new(ish) direction part of this. Because this is a blog mostly inspired by my own life now, there will be a little shift and I will be focusing more on 1) our ongoing adoption process for our little guy and all that that entails. And 2) my fitness journey as I’m really taking this year to get back to a place of wholeness and goodness for my body. I will still focus on these things from a very real and mommy-based perspective, but I just wanted to be real and up front about where I see this going! The nice part about this is it does allow me to post adoption updates to one forum instead of having to post in several different places individually.

My prayer going forward is to inspire mommas to live healthy (in whatever way that means to them) and that possibly someone may get encouragement or inspiration from our adoption story. I hope that all of you who have supported us thus far will continue to support me in the future with this and that this new direction and our decisions will be supported and accepted by all who read this blog.

2019… New Year! Let’s do this thing!!!

Navigating the Holidays with Kiddos

It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year and we could not be more excited! Experiencing the holidays through the eyes of your own child is just absolutely the best thing. But we know, with all this splendor can also come some challenges. The holidays can be A LOT. Mentally, emotionally, financially, there are tons of obligations. It can just be overwhelming. We have some ways of combating this feeling that we’d like to share to keep the holidays fun and joyous for everyone!

1) Don’t feel the need to keep up with the Joneses! Your child’s holiday experience is what you make it. Your kids will not look back 20 years from now and remember that you spent 1000 dollars on their gifts. They’ll remember the love, the laughter, the traditions. It’s so sad that Christmas has just become about how much money we spend on our kids’ gifts just to maintain some sort of image to all our friends or Instagram followers. You do not love your kids with money. Yes, buying them gifts is so fun, but set a realistic budget and stick to it! One way I stick to my budget is shopping secondhand. I check out the online yard sale pages, consignment shops, I even stash away toys people give us and gift them at Christmas. This may seem “cheap” to some, but my kids do not know the difference at all and it saves me tons of money in the long run! We also give the grandparents a small list of items the kids want/need. This cuts down on any double purchases and takes things off of my own list that I then don’t have to purchase. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Most grandparents like having an idea of what to get!

Karsen riding his bike that I found in almost brand new condition on the online yard sale.

2) Make time for just you! So many times, we get wrapped up in feeling like we need to attend every party, go to every function, etc. and we end up feeling run down and ragged by the time the holiday season is over. It is 100 percent okay to politely decline an invitation to something. Especially if saying yes to it comes at the cost of time with your own family. Choose the few things ahead of time that you plan to attend throughout the season, and make the other time for you! Bake cookies, watch movies, drive around and look at Christmas lights on houses. There are so many things to do with kids at Christmas that it would be a shame to miss it all just to attend another cookie swap, wouldn’t it??

These cuties are worth saying “no” to a few things I think 😊

3) Purchase one gift per week til a few weeks before Christmas. Now, I’ll be honest, this is actually one I’m trying out this year. I think if I spread the gifts out, I won’t feel the weight of the money spent all at once, plus it doesn’t feel so overwhelming buying so many gifts altogether. I started 2 weeks ago and plan to stop the first week of December. I then plan to wrap a few gifts a night til I’m finished and I don’t have to stress with last minute gift buying/wrapping and can just focus on the fun stuff!

4) Don’t be afraid to kid-ify your Christmas! Yes, kids need to learn how to wait to open presents or eat a nice meal, but if you know that you’d all be more comfortable with paper and plastic or opening a few gifts Christmas Eve, have at it!! My family has never been one to use nice china or glass wear at Christmas. It’s just not who we are. There’s always been a ton of kids running around and it’s just not practical. We could try and conform to how others do things, or we could embrace who we are and just do things our way!

They love helping out!

5) One thing I’ve started doing the last few years is making sure I save at least one recipe the kids can easily help me with both at thanksgiving and Christmas. They love to feel included and like they contributed in someway. I don’t choose a super complex recipe as to stress myself out, just one that takes a few easy steps. And then I’ve made sure to have a tablecloth that can be colored on. Them having fun things to while we all try and prepare for the meals to take place just makes things so much easier on all of us. And then you have a fun tablecloth to eat off of once it’s time because they’ve decorated it with all kinds of fun artwork! Walmart usually has options for colorable tablecloths and they are like 2 dollars each. That’s a win to me!

Our tablecloth from last year. Even the teenagers and adults got in on the fun!

I hope these little tips can help y’all in some way! I think every child (and parent) deserves as stress free of a holiday season as they can get! Remember what we’re celebrating this time of year and embrace this time together!

How my kids inspired me to save my own life…

265 pounds. I blinked and somehow I was 265 pounds. I was tired all the time, I had high blood pressure, all kinds of hormonal issues, my joints were worn out. Y’all, I was 20 years old and felt like an old woman already. I was (not so slowly) killing myself from the inside out.

I look back now at who I was at that point in my life and it all seems so completely foreign and distant to me. But when I really think about it, I’m still that girl. I still struggle to make healthy food choices each day. I still have to dig down deep and find motivation to get myself to the gym each and everyday. So what changed between then and now?? What happened to make me wake up and realize that change needed to take place? I’ve always known how to eat healthy. I grew up in the sport of competitive gymnastics so I understand what working out looks and feels like. What shifted in my life to lead me to actually implement those ideas though? Well, I’ll tell you.

I had my ah-ha moment one day shortly after I turned 21. My husband and I were coming up on our year anniversary of being married and so, of course, we had begun talking about children. I had been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome right before we got married and part of what goes along with that is potential issues with fertility. Add onto that my obesity and I knew we were very likely to have some struggles. At this time in my life, I was also a nanny for a family with 2 young girls. Keeping up with the girls, especially at places like the park, was really difficult for me. I got winded easily, I was slow and my weight limited me on what I was able to do physically.

I took one big look at all this and I did the one thing that changed things forever: I discovered my WHY. I made a decision that I was NOT going to be “the fat mom”. I know that sounds really shallow, but I swear it was not at all. It was never about looks or trying to “fit in”. It was about me realizing that my future children deserved a healthy mom! They deserved to be incubated in a womb that was in tip top shape. They deserved a mom that could run around the house after them without having to stop from being winded. They deserved a mom that would climb on the jungle gym and slide with them instead of having to sit on the bench and watch. My kids were my WHY. My kids were exactly what I needed to kick my tail into shape. I want to watch them grow up and get married and have babies of their own. I want to experience life with them, and that wasn’t going to be possible if I continued down the destructive path I was taking.

I find that those who are struggling with motivation of any kind can really benefit from realizing and understanding their why. It may not be weight loss and it may not be your children, but if you find yourself really lacking the drive to get done what you need to, ask yourself “why am I doing this?? What is it that I’m really desiring to get out of this?” Anytime I’m struggling now to do what I know I need to, I think about my why. I think about my kids. I think about their faces as they watch me cross a half marathon finish line, or their smiles when I play on the playground with them. And no food, no lazy feelings, no anything is worth not giving those things to them! They are worth every bit of sweat, every sacrifice, everything.

What’s your WHY???