Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An End to a Beautiful Year

As we sit on our couch, on the last day of 2013, pondering the year with awe, we are so grateful.

The therapist in me loves reflection.  Loves looking back on the year and remembering.  The good.  The bad.  The sad.

And the downright awesome.

2013 was the Year of the House.  It is so crazy to think that, this time last year, we didn't even know we were buying a house.  We hadn't even looked at houses yet. 

I know that it might seem, at times, like we are a bit obsessed with our house and that we talk about it A LOT.  But I think those that know us know that our house was the second big obstacle in our adoption journey, with debt being the 2012's obstacle to overcome.  A Facebook group that I belong to asked what you thought was your biggest accomplishment of 2013.  I said that we "found, fought for, and purchased" our first home. 

Fought for.  It might seem like an exaggeration to some.  But those who walked that journey with us know that it was a fight.  Every single step of the way.  There were so many intricate parts that had to line up for this to happen, some of which still don't make logical sense.

I remember, as a kid in the country, that I hated to do yard work.  I hated the raking and mowing.  Last weekend, on an unseasonably warm December Saturday, I found myself doing yard work with such a joy and gratefulness in my heart that people would think I'm crazy. 

And there may come a day when I'm not so thankful to do yard work.  But, for right now, in preparation of Part Three of the Adoption Journey (the really good part!), I'm content to rake leaves and burn tree limbs and clean out window wells.

2013 also brought about loss. 

My dear sweet grandma Ruth died in February.  Adam's Pap died in December.  Two bookends of grief that sandwiched the year.  Even the loss of my favorite person in the world, a person who loved me more than anyone ever has and maybe ever will, has been eased the acquisition of our home.  It is not just the ownership of a home, but rather the ownership of THIS home, that has been a balm to my spirit.  A house that reminds me of her at least once a day.  A home that still, six months later, smells of her when I walk in the door. 

The year saw the loss of a close friendship.  It is hard to ask people to join us on this adoption journey, knowing that not everyone gets it (or is interested in getting it).  It's hard to explain that the financial priority is to save for the adoption, which limits the things that we can and want to do.  While it is hard to be on this journey, we are also understanding that it is hard to join us on this journey.  We are so grateful for those who can and continue to do so, even if only for a season. 

This year brought about new furry family members, Shelby and Beatrix.  It took Shelby probably four months to really settle in and hit her groove, which mostly includes chasing the cats and snuggling with Adam, but she finally got comfortable with being a part of our family.  Obviously, we don't have kids yet, but I can imagine that the way I feel about Shelby is probably 5% of how parents feel when they add another child to the family.  Man, our lives were FULL before Shelby.  But, really, how did we ever live without her?  How did we not know she was missing from our lives?

Probably the biggest thing that's happened in the last month is that ADAM FINISHED NURSING SCHOOL!  This has been a long time coming, as his school schedule has been erratic due to military service obligations and (cancelled) deployments.  He should be able to take his nursing boards in January or February.  So PROUD of his accomplishment and excited to see what the new year holds for him!

As I look back, I'm a little disappointed that our adoption didn't move further along in 2013.  This time last year, I was SO SURE that 2013 was going to be the year that we really gained momentum and started moving in a direction or, better yet, the year we brought home a baby.

This was a year of big doors opening and, just as suddenly, shutting with no explanation or reason.  It was (another) year of waiting.  It was a year of managing expectations of life, God, ourselves, and each other. 

But, fortunately, dreams don't expire.  So I'll just carry this wish and hope for our family into the new year.

2014, the Millers are ready for you! 

(All of us.  Wherever we are.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2,000 Prayers

As many of you know, I started praying for our "future family, whatever that looks like" on the day before Thanksgiving, back in 2010.  I have consistently prayed this same prayer, every day, for the last three years.  Which means that I have prayed the. same. prayer. (at least) 2,000 times. 

And I will continue to pray this prayer every day until all of our babies are home and tucked safely in their beds.  Where they belong.

But I cannot even begin to articulate how dark this feels. 

We attended our adoption meeting back in September.  And I was so excited, because I was SURE that this was going to be the springboard to starting our family.  And it's taken me almost three months to be able to process and wrap my brain around what changed for us after that meeting. 

It was just an information session.  It wasn't anything personal.  I was pretty sure that they weren't sending us home with a baby (but always open to the idea!).  Sitting in a room with thirty other couples, most of whom weren't even sure that they wanted to adopt.  Adam and I have been reading and researching and praying about our intent to adopt for THREE YEARS.  We could have led the information session with our eyes closed. 

And then, in the conversation about approval, the record scratched.  I think I stopped breathing.  As part of your home study, you have to make sure that you have a plan for any unsafe situations around your house (firearms, ponds, major roadways), but you also have to be able to prove that you can pay the placement fee at the hospital.  Which is roughly $17,000.  That we don't  have. 


People asked questions about how to loophole around that; because, frankly, I don't know a ton of people who just have that kind of disposable income laying around.  Some employers offer rockin' adoption benefits and you can even get a letter from family members saying that they will spot you the money.  There are even low-interest adoption loans that are available for just this occasion. 

I love being self-employed, but sometimes I get a little annoyed that my employer doesn't offer rockin' (or really any) adoption benefits. 

We talked about the adoption loans for weeks.  We kept talking about how we should look into it, but we never did.  And, finally, we had a pretty tough conversation over breakfast at a pancake house.  We talked about how, for us, it felt irresponsible to go into debt for adoption.  I kept hearing Dave Ramsey's voice in my head saying, "God will never call you to do something that will cause you to go into debt."  And, as you probably expected, I cried at the pancake house. 

When I first talked to Adam about adoption, his first concern was everyone's first concern.  Money.  How are we possibly going to afford it?  And I was so confident.  I said, "I have no idea.  But the money will come."  The last thing on my mind was where the money was going to come from.  And I have to say that my heart aches to be sitting here, THREE YEARS LATER, and to still have NO IDEA where this money is going to come from. 

And, yet, I see God moving in other people's adoptions and in their families.  Reminders of what He can do.  Reminders that He loves adoption.

One of my favorite blogs features a family with six kids, two of whom are adopted.  And I have to say that I just love this momma's heart.  After bringing home their sixth child, they almost immediately begin the adoption of their SEVENTH child, who has special needs.  They have NO IDEA how they are going to cover the cost of the adoption, but they are stepping out in faith, and God is delivering! 

Another blog I follow is written by a woman who has been married to her husband for twelve years.  After years of infertility, they have adopted four children.  Two from Uganda and two from Ethiopia.  And then, after the first of the year, she found out she was pregnant.  For the first time ever.  And their darling son was born last month. 

I've seen adoptive families be able to raise $40,000 overnight.  True story.

Amazing stuff.

So, when people ask about the adoption, it's hard for me not to get caught up in the fact that things aren't moving and we have no idea how long this is going to take or what this is going to look like.  It is so strange to have a momma's heart, but no babies to love on. 

But I believe that God is going to do some RADICAL things to create our family.  And, just like with our house, I believe it will happen quickly and it will be so perfect for us (beyond our wildest imagination) that we will not be able to believe that we doubted for a second that it would work out.


Make it 2,0001.