Courtney S. Barr

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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.