Courtney S. Barr

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Faith Moved Mountains Pt. 5 Grateful

"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1

I landed in a heap that Monday. 
I tell you Village, that Monday my heart changed immensely. God had already begun a process in me, one that dove deep into recesses of my heart that I had never even fathomed. I had discovered a place carved for the birth-mother, a place carved for every rejection along the way, a place carved for dealing with pain that seemed endless, a place carved to explore loving M more than I thought I could, a place carved for you - dear Village; places hidden so deep that only God could lead me there. On that Monday, as we sat in a hospital room watching as two people signed papers that made the natural world see Everleigh as ours my heart became more. More invested in someone other than myself, more able to shift/change to see the value of others, more filled with light than I thought possible and more grateful than I've ever been...

M held Everleigh from the moment we left the family lounge, as they signed papers, as the two families breathed when the clock ticked away to that fateful hour of closure; he held her. Not me. I had held her for pretty much 42 of the 48 hours there. He was the one laying claim that morning. I will never forget a few minutes we had with our Nebraska lawyer alone. We spoke of how she had been doing this for quite some time, how when she got started she had not expected her work to be so monumental - but she gave glory - she spoke of how she was just honored to be a vessel that God could use to aid families during some of the hardest and most beautiful decisions they encounter. She spoke of her faith and how God has blessed her in this area of her life and beyond. We were blown away by her honesty and her heart. We mentioned the sweet Paralegal who had spoken for so long with me and who had expressed such kindness. We learned that the Paralegal had been adopted and also had adopted - God is great Village - He placed us along a journey filled with symbols and people who gave us great peace, comfort, hope and especially love.

After the papers were signed, that same lawyer stood among us, as we all were gathering diapers and wipes and clothes and things we had lived in for the past 48 hours she patiently waited before asking if we could all pause for a moment. I remember that intake of breath that passed through M and myself. We waited, hesitantly worried - we knew the paperwork was done - irreversible, yet the enemy will try to pick at those worries, those fears. God had been in that room for 48 hours, He wasn't relinquishing us anymore than M was letting Everleigh out of his sight. 

Lawyer: "Would you all mind if we had a word of prayer before I left?"

The room froze. 

M: "I think that would be great. Yes, yes. Thank you."

We all stood. I stood in front of M, beside the recliner that had been my bed for the weekend; the birth parents stood beside the hospital bed that they had made their camp in, my cousin stood beside me. We stood together - a unified group - as words tumbled from our lawyer's lips praying for peace, for comfort, for joy, for growth, for protection, for love and for honor of the God who had orchestrated this from the beginning. My gratefulness to God in His timing grew tenfold in those moments. I had endured years of screaming while driving home from work, hours of tears that coursed down red cheeks and hiccup sobs as the emails that softly said no while I loudly screamed why, I had faced changes in my own body - changes that I thought defined who I could be, I had accepted fears as truth only to finally face them with hope and promise, I had watched M battle with aggravation and frustration over timing, over selection and watched as he hurt with me every time the days had been dark and seemingly desolate - in that moment it all fell softly into place for this first journey into adoption. He seemed to be standing beside me rubbing my shoulders, squeezing me tightly and whispering words of peace into my heart. 

It hearkened back to the first time I remember being truly grateful - the first surgery - the first true time in my short life that I had faced fear of death, fear of loss, fear of not being enough. I remember the moment I found gratefulness during that journey - it was in a hospital room as well, only I was staring into the eyes of a woman who would soon know me and be a part of my story unlike any others, she was explaining what was going on, why I was in such pain and I felt that same whispering, that same comfort, through the spasms I felt good about her, about God placing her in that moment. I was still terrified but I didn't feel alone and I was grateful to Him for that promise. 

That Monday, standing there listening to this sweet woman speak words of light over us, I felt that same gratefulness. I was again terrified - not of danger or any issues with the paperwork - terrified because -Holy cow, they are going to let us leave with her? We are really parents! This is terrifying - we don't know anything about babies or have anything but a diaper bag and car seat! - that kind of terrified, but He knew that, He had already set that aside and was reminding me that this woman before me was here because she was the perfect one to be used to orchestrate the union of these families, to be standing here reminding ALL of us that none of this was by chance, that none of this was mere coincidence - no, He had done as He does - He had given us more and I couldn't have been more grateful. 

She finished and the birth family left before us as we got Everleigh into her car seat. She was so small, so tiny in that big seat and we climbed into our cousin's car for the hour drive. I let the world know on that drive. We called the first connects of family to let them know it was done - she was ours, then I created a slideshow, created a storybook of sorts for social media...that was the big one. We had asked for prayers, but because our Village is so huge, because it spans so far and wide the public post was the best and simplest way to say "SURPRISE, WELCOME TO THE WORLD, OUR BABY GIRL!!" It was the cork popping the champagne bottle of announcements and the messages rolled in, the phone calls came and tears of joy were shed.

We had one of those parent moments on the way to my aunt and uncle's house. We stopped at Target, red eyed, no shower, sleep deprived and dressed as though we had been on a 3 day bender. My cousin sat with Everleigh in the car as we scoured aisles, looking at the list our sweet nurse had made for us, and grabbing cute outfits along the way. We laughed as we walked to check out, pushing that buggy full of formula, baby items was surreal and was one of the highlights. We were parents in the most honest and real way in those moments.

Because of ICPC you must stay in the adoptive state for up to 10 business days while the receiving state and adoptive state get all their paperwork together. We were beyond blessed to have family so close by and to have them open up their home to us. In fact they had a bassinet (one that all my cousins on that side had slept in, that my own mother had once slept in), a rocker (that had also rocked my mother to sleep - God is amazing y'all, simply amazing), a fully furnished apartment/basement for us and more love than sweet Everleigh could ever imagine in her first week of life on Earth. 

That week we laughed, we ordered more Amazon baby items, ate tons of food, had her first baby shower and were blessed to be able to have my mother and sister fly up to see Everleigh and our extended family. The nights were not nearly as bad as so many spoke of with a newborn and honestly I'm not sure they ever will be - so long as that gratefulness remains in my heart. By the time it was the day to travel back home to Alabama it was bittersweet. We truly enjoyed the special time the three of us had to just settle into being family and the time we had with family that was so important, so special to our story. But there was more to the story to come and we were ready to see what was next.

She was only 8 days old when we took her on the plane. "Eight Days!!" -that was the chant of the day as strangers met her and saw her on the flights. We are forever thankful to Delta airlines and their attendants that weekend - they treated us as royalty.  

Coming home Seeing Duchess with her for those first seconds in the airport and then the days following. Listening to her hum the Harry Potter theme song as Everleigh slept and watching her step so easily into the big sister role made my heart so very happy.

Then, of course, my dear sweet Village you all came tenfold for us, you brought us meals, you sent cards, you brought us gifts, you gave your time, you showered us with laughter and you gave love in every way that you could come up with. I still am behind on thank you cards and this is not replacing them at all - they will come! I'm too southern for them not to, but I will be honest there are many and that example of such great love overwhelms me in the most beautiful way. 

Everleigh is 5 months old now, just turned yesterday. She has 2 teeth with 3 breaking the skin as I type, she sits up beautifully and really is trying to walk instead of crawl (lol), she has been eating 'solid' foods for a month now and absolutely loves to bounce in her bouncer, she talks animatedly anytime you will listen. She has so much personality and we love every inch of her. She is a healthy 17 lbs and 26 inches long. My favorite new thing is how she likes to touch my face as she falls asleep, her tiny hand massages my cheek and rubs my nose as she closes her eyes against my shoulder. Sometimes her blue eyes open and she stares up at me as she moves, smiling wider the longer she stares. It melts me every time. That heart of mine, the one with all the hidden spots I didn't know about? It has more, I know that now. I know that when the opportunity to find a sibling for this beautiful princess occurs it will grow again - those pains of rejection might resurface but this time, this time I am going in with even more glory for God, even more gratefulness for His mercies, His gifts, His timing, His infinite knowledge of what is the BEST not just better humbles me every time I hear her "talk" to her toys or when she coos in her walker as she scoots backwards rather than forwards. Our story doesn't end here, it doesn't just stop and we are now just parents - no if anything our story is just beginning. We have new chapters now, new arcs and climaxes yet to come. We have new family - we keep in close contact with her birthmother and are so honored to get to do so. We have new goals, responsibilities and new ideals of what life can be.  We have so many reasons to do as He asks - to tell of His greatness, that His trials and tribulations are parts of your story - He is never not with you so don't ever think those trials are done without His support, they are often His desire to bring you closer to Him and to learn how to give it all to Him. 

Thank you dear Village for following this short series on how we saw Mountains move by Faith, how we were privileged to walk through storms, to feel the batter of mighty winds but to see the Prince of Peace through it all. We never expected this, we never even dreamed that this really would be where we would be standing - none of it is due to anything we've done/not done - it is all His grace, His mercy, His truth, His promises. We give this beautiful daughter of the King of Kings to Him, we dedicate our lives to making sure she is aware of Him, that she sees Him when she sees us and that she knows we are not perfect but in Him we can find the type of perfect love that transcends all things and that He loves her so very much.

Life is unpredictable. We are ill equipped if we try to travel this life without God, we can get by, we can live what seems to be an okay life - but true fulfillment can only be found if you have asked God into your heart and you've decided to let go - to give Him every single thing that comes across your path - there will be things you want to cling to, things that you think you can handle...don't box Him in. He is a big God. He wants your anger, your sadness, your disappointment, your sorrow, your happiness, your joy, your love, the big things, the small stuff...He wants all of you, because He loves all of you - the misgivings, the flaws, the fears, the worries, the beauty, the broken...He LOVES IT ALL. He is the only one who sincerely sees every bit of you, knows every bit of you and is in LOVE with every bit of you - no wavering, no conditions, no issues, no maybes - He. Loves. It. All!! What a beautiful truth! 

Village, if you haven't gotten to know Him, if you haven't given Him all of you, take heart - there is no time limit, there are no requirements to be better before you go to Him, there is nothing you've done - wanted to do - not done that will keep Him from loving you. Truth is...He already does. He is just waiting for you to lean in. So do. Ask Him into your heart - those recesses that you think are full or dark, nope, He can get there. Give Him your heart, your life, your cares and let a peace beyond all that you will ever understand fill you. 

One warning, it isn't just one and done. You will probably have to make this choice and do this every day, sometimes more than once a day - no worry, He forgives all you've done, gives second chances more than there are drops in the ocean if you just go to Him, give Him your mistakes, ask Him to forgive and open yourself to all He has for you. I have to do it daily, I have to choose Him daily. I want Him to hear from me every day, to know I love Him every day and to know that those days before I gave Him everything do not define me nor do they change how He sees me. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, my hope lies in Him who created the sun and moon and earth, I come from a place of Victory, this world is not my home, I am raising a daughter of the King of Kings - a Princess, and it is with Him I will run to when the days are long, Him I will teach her of when she seeks refuge and it is Him who I pray that you dear Village come to know, come to seek and discover love like no other. For He is the giver of great and beautiful things...don't you want that in your life?

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Faith MOVED Mountains, Pt. 4 – Trust and Leaps

Trust in Him at all times, O’ people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalms 62:8

It was super early at the airport.

Duchess dropped us off with hugs, heavy heart (she had class Monday and couldn’t go with us, plus the puppy brothers needed supervision) and prayers. I remember walking into the security and thinking that this may be one of the few remaining times we travel so light. We get to our gate, both tired but so buoyed by excitement for this next step that we can’t stop fidgeting.

We watch other people around us, wondering what their destination is, wondering if their journey is as HUGE as ours…we hold hands, we lean on each other and we pray. The boarding begins and flight number 1 is ready for take-off. We began counting the hours down until we would meet the baby who would hopefully be ours.

I remember that we didn’t talk a lot on the flights. Both of us put headphones on and dove into worship and praise music. We just listened, watched the window and prayed. Prayer was constant. It filled us more than the air it seemed for those hours…

But God spoke. He sent us some messages in those smooth flights, the rainbow He sent that seemed to wrap around us and in the peace we felt with every passing cloud.

We snacked on Bananas, popcorn and Biscoff cookies – thank Delta for those delicious cinnamon biscuits.

When we touched down in Omaha I remember us looking at each other and trying to just take that second, that moment before we ran full steam into the unknown, and into the exciting hope that lay before us. We both took our phones off airplane mode to see the following information: our birth-mother was dilated to 4 cm. She was coming soon.

While we were touching down, our birth-mother was in labor. Technically she had started the 6 hours she was in labor right when we got to the airport back home. Our sweet baby was ready to meet us, God's timing is precious and perfect in all things.

The hospital is one town over and so we knew that there was drive time ahead.
When we saw my cousin in the airport, waiting to pick us up, her face lit up and the three of us hugged while we walked. We were chittering like children it seemed as we headed towards her parked car. M was blown away at my family resemblance (he had never met the majority of my cousins from up North) and so we chatted about that before we focused on the drive.

It was while we were leaving the airport that the first picture of our sweet baby girl surfaced on my cousins’ phone. 

I remember the tears silently slipping down my cheeks and the elation on M’s face as he stared at the picture. I remember the worry TRY to slip in, the fear TRY to slip in but I kept clinging to the words on the radio, to the songs in my head….the flight had been full of promise and hope, I wasn’t going to just let that worship slip away.

Silent moments filled the drive, then we all would chatter then the silence would return. Tears never stopped. We pulled into the hospital. I remember not knowing what to take in, what bags to grab, what items we needed, if any…I just was helpless in a moment. Needing to grab something. So I did. I grabbed M’s hand and we walked into the double doors to meet our daughter.

I won't deny that I was terrified that we wouldn't get through the doors, that some Ogre or something was going to tell us "Turn around, you have no business here." But with every step no Ogre appeared.

Do know that the hospital was very aware that this was an adoptive parent/birth parent situation. They wanted to make sure we were conscientious of certain things…one thing in particular – for the next 48 hours, birth-mom is still in control. Until she signs, until Monday at 12:23 p.m. she still holds all the cards. Remember last post about guarding hearts? This is why. 

We knew this going in, most adoptive parents know, its your job to understand the state you are adopting from and its laws on children, birth-mothers and proceedings. You NEED to know, you NEED to understand – whether you agree with them or not – they are important. 

We knew the 48 hours wouldn’t be easy, but they were there, they were a part of our process and they were important to us and to the woman who we would be meeting very soon.

I remember nurse D when she came first to the window to see us, to tell us where we could go; she was stern, you could tell she was the birth-mother’s assigned nurse but more than that…she was a barrier, a buffer, a protector of sorts for the young woman who had just given birth. At first, I thought she disapproved, I thought the emotion she was projecting was because maybe she didn’t want the baby to be given for adoption…

God, my dear Village, He is by far so much smarter than we are.

We followed her, down a hall, up an elevator and to a floor where you must press a buzzer and state the name of your family member to be let in. I remember saying her name. I remember the small hospital bracelet being placed on my wrist that carried her name, the woman I wanted to shower with love, to let her know her worth and somehow let her know that even if she changes her mind in the next 48 hours, she is still everything and MORE than what I can shower her with. I had expected it to be heavy, to speak her name, but it wasn’t. Again, that special part of my heart had already given her a home. 

We stepped through and were led to a family lounge, a waiting area, while the baby was being cleaned up. We weren't sure when, where we would meet anyone. Then our sweet baby's maternal grandmother and birthfather came in. I will never, ever forget the first time I laid eyes on her birthfather. He was holding back tears and as if we had all known each other for centuries, he hugged Marcus and I both. I cried, telling him we loved him, he cried telling us how beautiful she is and how amazing everything had gone.

Then we talked, cried and talked some more. Then the nurse came to lead us to the nursery. The birthfather and maternal grandmother went back to the labor room.

We had no idea what to expect. We were trying not to cry, not to ask too many questions, just to follow, step by step as we leaned into wherever God was leading us.

Then we stepped into the nursery. A nurse stood to the side, our nurse D told them who we were and then we stepped into an adjoining room. A young doctor was lifting a baby, turning her side to side, checking her out, looking at the remaining gunk all over her and motioned us over. Nurse D introduced us. The doctor paused, I will never forget that pause, he looked at us, just stared for a heartbeat and then smiled. He introduced himself and we shakily said hello. The precious squirming gift he held so easily was our daughter. He introduced her to us, then handed her to me and a bottle. My baby’s first meal and my first real tangible moment with what hope and faith creates. 

I cried. 

Sobbed a little as she took those first sips and M, he stood beside me, tears rolling saying how beautiful she was. We melted then, just melted. The doctor, nurses they watched as I sat in a rocker and spoke to her. They watched as M held my shoulder and spoke to her. My dear cousin stood beside us and cried, telling us how beautiful she is.We had a few more moments before nurse D (who had slipped out) returned to tell us we all were wanted in the labor room - this was it, we were meeting the woman I had pictured and prayed for, the woman who had made a decision that my heart ached for and the woman who was showing me a visual example of selfless love...

I remember seeing her face, beautiful yet tired, the length of her hair - so long and the weariness in her smile. I cannot imagine her thoughts. I hugged her, tight, whispered to her the gift she is and cried again. In all honesty in that singular moment I wanted the world to fall away and the two of us to just be for a bit - to talk about what she had given us, what she had given our beautiful daughter. This life, this beautiful soul sitting beside me in a hospital was more family to me in that moment than my blood relatives. We share something very special now, something that bonds me to her in thought and prayer in a way that I cherish so much. 

We all talked a bit and then they brought E back into the room. From that moment forward the 5 of us (birth mom, birth dad, M, Everleigh and myself) began what we lovingly refer to as camping out in a hospital. 

We all "lived" in that small room and in the family room down the hall from that moment forward. We ate together for most meals and when birth parents caught up on much needed rest, we spent hours with the nurses and staff asking questions on newborns, listening to their advice and learning so much about what we had in store. We were honored to share in the knowledge that some of the staff had experienced adoptions themselves - some had been a birth mother, some had family members who were adopted and a few were the adopted members of their families. God, He is a wise one. lol. We were loved on in a way that just any one wouldn't have known to love on us. Our birth family was loved on in a way that a typical scenario might not have been able to be such an impact on it all. 

Monday came quickly. I woke up first, well Everleigh woke up first and I took her down the hall to the family lounge. I remember staring at her, just staring at the faces she made as she slept in my arms. It was then, alone, in that room that the sobs came. I had not cried since those first hours in the hospital, I'd been the one saying "God has this, no more worries, everything will be fine." I was guarding my heart with fortress strength walls and there in that little room, alone singing to her sweet face my walls crumbled, fear crept in and I began the REAL countdown. The 4 hours until the papers would be signed, the 4 hours until we truly knew whether or not she was ours. 

The Holy Spirit comes in so many forms and manners. A photographer came to take newborn pictures of Everleigh just as I was shaking with sobs. 

She was so kind, smiling and handing me a tissue. Then she stooped in front of us and said "These can wait if you'd like, I understand you are adopting her and today you discharge, right?" 

I gave her a snotty, sniffling yes.

She paused. Standing up straight for a moment to look at us then the room.

She looked at Everleigh and at me. "You know, she is sleeping so sound in your arms. I just don't think she is going anywhere else today. Why don't we set up some shots?"

That sentence from a stranger who had no control, who couldn't have told you our birth family's last name, yet stood before me and told me she was mine in the most subtle and sweet matter of fact manner. I laughed. 

She handed me another tissue and began moving chairs around. I blew my nose, apologized and stood up with Everleigh. She walked over to me.

"Let's try the window area and get some good light. Why don't you place her and I will arrange her as needed. You stay close to her though in case she gets restless."

That was that. I began to dry up my tears and we laughed as she arranged Everleigh in various positions, as we moved her around the small space and as she took some of the most amazing photos in the family lounge of the hospital. She left to get everything uploaded and I sat down. Completely at peace. When M woke and came down, I had already bought in, everything was on the table, God had all my chips and the leap I had already began running for so many years before was coming in for a landing. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Faith Moved Mountains, Pt. 3 – His timing…never try to figure it out…just embrace its beauty

So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here.
1 Peter 1:6

Did they go to the appointments? What did the doctor say? What about the lawyer? What is the next steps? What if they backed out? Please God be with this baby! Please God be with the birthparents! Please God be with us…

This was my mind from waking til 5:26 p.m. on that Friday in October. Yet there were other things going on around us as well...In the midst of all of this, of all that we had going on with the adoption there was to be a wedding on that Saturday. M’s cousin was getting married in the evening in our home town. All summer as we talked about the upcoming nuptials, all 3 of us (Duchess, Prince M, and myself) couldn’t wrap our heads around being there. We hadn’t bought new outfits, we hadn’t really planned to be in our hometown for the event…it was like this event sat in the back of our minds, an important event, not diminished by what we had going on at all - the union of two people who are making a commitment is not something we take lightly - yet for some reason this beautiful event had not/would not come to the forefront of our schedule. We were ill prepared that Friday for going south and really had not even packed or planned outfits, the dogs – nothing – for those wondering -  that isn’t like me. I am a plan the details, created the itinerary, begin counting down the days, plan for the best trips ever person. I create personalized, bound travel books for EVERY trip guys - even weekend getaways...yeah....

I had gotten to the house around 5:15 p.m. I had cried out on the drive home, tears flowing, asking God to please send me comfort no matter what His will deemed this entire situation to be. I remember walking into the garage, grabbing a can of white spray paint and a European mount deer skull I was set to custom paint for a customer. I sprayed the base coat and stood outside. It wasn’t sunny. It wasn’t dark. It was just light grey blue everywhere. I had the back hatch to my SUV open because I had bought other paint colors and they were in the back ready to take on coat two and three on the skull. My phone sat on a red chest in the garage. I hadn’t even changed into ‘paint clothes’. I still wore work clothes; I just needed to complete something, to work on something, to let my talents pour into something tangible and seemingly in my control. I had let the dogs into the backyard and they were barking at the noise I was making. The phone rang. I stepped over towards it, white paint on my finger tips and I reached out. The screen flashed a 402 phone number that I did not recognize, but the area code…that was a 3 digit arrow to my heart. I quickly swiped left and quietly said “This is Courtney.” The paralegal who had only a week ago patiently explained all the details of a Nebraska adoption to me began to speak

Paralegal: “Hi! I hope your Friday is going well (THAT ALL DEPENDS!). Well, they did come by this afternoon. (OH PRAISE JESUS, PRAISE JESUS) Birthmom is lovely, birthfather seems very kind, birthgrandmother was also very pleasant to meet. (OKAY, OKAY, NOW WHAT??). Everyone is on board and ready to move forward. So everything looks good, they are good with the paperwork. They gave us everything we need from them so I have already started on getting everything typed out.(OMG, OMG, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!!! Paint drips silently onto the concrete) However, (HEART DROPS TO THE FLOOR) there is one thing…(OMG, IS IT MONEY, IS IT ANYTHING????!!! TELL ME!!!!) Do you think you can be here tomorrow?(SILENCE. BREATHE. IN. OUT. IN. OUT. ANSWER HER!!!)

Courtney: “Um, what? Tomorrow? Is everything okay…” (SHAKING BEGINS)

Paralegal: *Chuckles* Don’t worry they are in shock too. Remember the doctor’s appointment before ours? Well that baby girl is ready to come on out. Are you ready to be a mom tomorrow?

Courtney: “Really? Like Really?(everything centers and I’m filled. In that moment, my answer simple, so unbelievably simple....)Yes.”

Paralegal: Okay, well I have to be on a trip with my children this weekend or else I would be able to meet you and it has been such a pleasure talking with you. I will get everything written up and *Attorney S* has another assistant who will be there on Monday when y’all hopefully discharge from the hospital. I am so happy for all of you! Congratulations. I guess I should let you go, you need to find a flight. *chuckles*

Courtney:  (My heart is beating like a drum as I chuckle)“Its funny you say that! I was checking flights this morning for next weekend since the due date was then and I randomly checked some for this weekend…I just did. So I actually know the price and I think I saw one for early am tomorrow….oh my gosh…I can’t believe it. (Holy Spirit, you tricky, sweet, marvelous counselor) Okay. I need to book it. I need to pack! Oh my gosh. Thank you for your kindness for your help and everything."

Paralegal: “It was my pleasure. They are looking to induce in the am but there is currently not a set time. She will be at *hospital* and I have some phone numbers to give you from birth grandmother. We gave them yours as well. Now *attorney S* will be available this weekend and will be touching base with you. If you need anything just email or call her at the contact information I gave you. Now go find a flight and congratulations again.”

I remember standing for about 30 seconds in the garage then stepping outside to where my car was. My fingers still held the imprint of white paint when I pressed the release button on the hatch. That white paint is still there by the way, slowly disappearing as time goes on, but I can close my eyes and see it bright, wet, clear as day. I walked upstairs, I waded through boxes, the emptying kitchen and stepped back outside to where the dogs were playing, I stood on the deck and watched as they bounded towards me. I hugged them, cried and hugged them again. I started to call M but changed my mind. Instead I found the tickets for 8 a.m. out of Bham and purchased them. I waited. On our credit cards when a large purchase is made (oh and day before tickets are not exactly “low fare”) it sends a text to M to make sure it isn’t fraudulent and boy does he call if it wasn’t him who made it. So I waited. Grinning with the excitement of telling him.

Duchess had been working with M that day and I heard her come in the house….I stood up and met her in the kitchen. I have no idea what look was on my face but she knew something was up. I showed her the confirmation of the ticket purchase. She smiled and said “So no wedding tomorrow after all. Yall are going to Nebraska.” I sat slowly at the table and nodded. I began to spill the story of the day…then a phone call came through my phone.

The birth grandmother was on the other line; she just wanted to hear my voice, to talk at least once before this all became the reality we were all teetering on. We both cried, I told her I loved her and her precious daughter – all the barest, honest, most transparent truth and it was refreshing to realize it in that moment that my love for them wasn’t new; I’d loved them before I knew they existed. In my heart had been a place, a hidden place that I had not known about that had been carved for those that would sacrifice so much for me, for this child, for a life of purpose in the name of love, we spoke a few moments longer then hung up.

I sat, dumbfounded…then M came in. He walked in like normal and I knew he hadn’t checked his phone.

I stood up and asked him what he wanted to do that weekend. He said “I guess I need to pull out my suit. How are we going to keep everything that has been going on quiet?” Then his voice faded off as he looked from me to Duchess.

I asked him “Wanna go to Nebraska?” I know the smile on my face was the biggest he has seen so far in our 20 years together. He stood stock still, staring as I showed him the screenshot of our flights.

M: “What? What happened? When? She is having the baby...this weekend?”

C: “Yes. We are going to be parents tomorrow.”

The tears flowed and we hugged and we hugged Duchess and then it was like a Freaky Friday moment.

I sat down, still, and in a bit of a trance. M began to move. Grabbing clothes in the closet. Calling out things we would need. Walking from one end of the house to the other. He asked about the weather there, what we would need, what about a place to stay, car rental - baby things. All the things I typically  meticulously plan out for our trips came rolling off his tongue and fell around me. I sat. Breathing, but sitting quiet and still. For Duchess it was an out of body experience to see the role reversal and even now we still laugh about that night. We had nothing by the way. Seriously not prepared to be parents! Lol. We had a diaper bag. That. IS. IT.

M: “Oh my gosh the wedding. How do we tell them we cannot be there but not tell those details?”

We didn’t want to tell everyone details for one reason. When this baby was born, 48 hours had to pass before the birth-parents could sign the paper work, once signed it was irrevocable. But those 48 hours were still there, the waiting, the guarding of hearts…the moments of faith were yet to come and we knew prayers were needed but hearts also needed to be protected for all parties involved.

C: “you can tell your mom that there is a baby that could be ours in Nebraska, that we won’t be at the wedding. Not to broadcast it to anyone but your cousin’s mom and your cousin getting married.”

So the calls began. To the coworker/boss that needed to know we had an emergency time off needed, to my parents that we would be flying to the state where my mother was born to possibly become parents, that they would possibly be grandparents very soon. To my sister who had been praying incessantly. And to our closest friends who had known that prayers for the last week had been what held us together.

So we packed and tried to sleep….

Because God is graceful, I am brave. Mark 5:25-34

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Faith Moved Mountains, Pt. 2 – There is no limit to what God can handle

Job 11:7 Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?

I hate to say it but we all tend to attempt to push the limits of God. We test Him even when we don’t realize it. We box Him in and then we find ourselves standing on top of a Mountain when we began in the depths of a Valley.

We were overcome with giggles that night. What you all don’t know is we had just decided to place our home on the market. Only one week, to the day, prior we had sat down with our realtor and decided to push the button. For 3 years we had hemmed and hawed over this decision. M was terrified that wrapping the monies we had so carefully set aside for a child would be hindered by the things to be ‘fixed’ within the house or that refinancing may be better or what if we can’t find a new home in the financial realm of our reality? I am the ultimate optimist when it comes to what God can do in these situations. Now, as you know, days of lows can easily seep in – but on the whole my optimism (dreamer mentality as M calls it) outnumbers the down days every year. So there I sat a fabulous Bistro in Tuscaloosa assuring my husband that everything would be fine. God has this. 
Then the realtor asked “What about the adoption?” 
we looked at each other and said “It is what it is.We have been in a holding pattern for years now and its time we just let Him truly have it all and know that we will be equipped to handle whatever He gives us because He will be in it.” 
She smiled and said ‘Okay, we will get the house staged, photos up and on the market on 10/31.” 

We continued our conversation, we also mentioned that in August of 2016 we had pre-paid and booked a BIG trip for the Duchess’ graduation for the first week of January 2017, again, something we had hesitated over in case a baby came – but we needed to do this – Duchess deserved the 10 days in Hawaii and we were taking that leap, asking about the limits He might have.

So, that night, when everything was an option; we sat staring at the home we have loved and lived in for 10 years. We laughed. A lot. We had already started boxing and shifting things and now…there was a glimmer,  a spark, that could make this transition as chaotic as any transition we’d ever experienced.

The next day was research. 

I called my Alabama Social Worker to get details about the Bama side of things. When you go through domestic adoption, you learn a great deal about terms like: ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children – basically the rules/laws of adopting a child from one state to another). Social Worker R was at a conference and I couldn’t get her immediately. The OCD crazy planner in me went into FULL SWING. Google, praise Jesus for Google, was my training on Nebraska lawyers. Now, Village, you need to know that as in all things God was there – even for the tiniest of things, the internet searches. The first firm that popped up sounded nice so I called. Sweet as they were, when I mentioned their experience with ICPC….they said “What is that?” I politely told them and they said “No, we only do adoptions within state lines.” On their recommendation I googled the Nebraska Bar Association. Guys, Nebraska is not highly populated, but there are BUNCHES of lawyers. I filtered to ones who specialized in Adoption, then the Holy Spirit didn’t whisper He kind of nudged my  heart. I wanted a female. I cannot explain it, but I did. Our Alabama lawyer is male and he is fabulous; but something led me to female. So I filtered. What is funny is that one of my cousin’s first name is the same first name of the lawyer that first popped up. In my sleep deprived, excited, full of hope logic that meant she was the one. Guys, she was. I happened to choose a woman who helps write Nebraska adoption laws, who is one of the most revered adoption attorneys in the state. After speaking for over an hour with her assistant I was convinced that if this was to happen, she was our lawyer.

Now for the fear factor: You see the lawyer cannot contact the birthparents – that would be solicitation. This lawyer would be representing the birthparents through the process (adoptive parents must cover the costs, but this lawyer is there to protect the birthparents from any shenanigans and to insure the ICPC is properly filed and distributed back to the receiving state.) So, the fear resides in the fact that the birthparents must willingly go to the lawyers’ office, tell them why they are there and then begin the paperwork process of giving their child to someone else. We feared they wouldn’t go, that this was a hopes dashed situation. When you guard your heart for so many years and you hear the “they went another way; they changed their minds; they didn’t choose you; I’m sorry it isn’t going to happen” 41 separate times in the past years fear is standard operating procedure. We also were praying for their peace and comfort, that the birthparents would be able to find the peace that only God can give and that whatever the outcome the child would be born, would be born into a place of love and that God would have His opportunity to bring more than just a child into the hearts of all involved.

Armed with my information I touched base with my cousin. This was Thursday. I gave her the information of the attorney for the family to contact. She passed everything along. Then Friday happened, then Saturday, then Sunday and on Sunday evening she and I discussed the fact that she had not heard back from them since the previous Thursday. I didn’t let me faith waiver. We prayed. We talked and I chose not to let M know that they had been radio silent for the past 4 days. I wanted to protect his heart. He excitedly talked every day about “our baby girl” and I couldn’t shatter that with unknowns. Monday came and went. No response. Tuesday came and went. No response. It was another Wednesday when the update came. My cousin called: “Courtney, they still want to go through with it. They still want to give you the baby. They are meeting with the attorney on Friday. She has a doctor’s appointment at 3 p.m. then they go to the attorney at 4 p.m.”

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.

I had basically told M that everything was fine up until that phone call. I remember stepping outside my office. I walked to a tulip tree beside the side window and sat on the dirt. I dialed his number. I had been shaking, crying even when he answered but I dried it up and asked “So you still want to be a daddy?” He said “Yes! Did they meet with the lawyer?” I told him the details and he got emotional as well. We talked and talked for about 20 minutes over the details. Then he said: “You need to tell Duchess, first, before anyone else, make sure she knows.” I hung up the phone and walked to the opposite side of the building. I made the call. “Duchess, are you ready to be a big sister?” I have no idea where she was in that moment, no idea what she had been doing but the emotions coming through that phone were unmistakable. She got emotional then the questions came – we had told no one details at all, we had asked some family and friends to pray, that mountains were moving, but no one but those involved knew the story. I gave her everything. In that moment, sharing it with her was one of the highlights of our journey.

Back to waiting for Thursday to come and go; our sweet Princess was due to come into this world exactly one week from that Thursday. I could barely work. But I did. I even began preparing some work related things just in case she delivered on time and I would possibly be out the next weekend. That Thursday night we worked on packing more things in the house. Our home was stacks of boxes, crates, furniture to sell, to pack, closets to go through, everything. We were still set to stage and sell by 10/31. It was 10/13. We had plenty of time. ;o)

Friday morning I was a mess. Just antsy and waiting to hear how the day would go. Praying incessantly that God would comfort our hearts, that if this baby was to be ours that these birthparents would go the appointments and that we would have an update in the evening.
Remember that sense of humor I mention often in my posts…..yes, God’s timing is better than what we could imagine.

Next up: Pt. 3 – prepare for timing and you prepare in vain, just let His timing be what it is: amazing

Get ready, Village, I've finally taken the moments, pulled the notes that I wrote while it all happened and penned the parts up to the here they all come....

As much as you want to plan your life…God has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned.