Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boy or Girl, That is The Question

Tomorrow afternoon, our family gets to find out whether this little one that I am carrying is another sister or a new little brother. To say we are excited is an understatement! In fact, Emma and I have been counting down the days until this ultrasound appointment for the past two weeks, so we are definitely ready to know who will be joining our family come March. Some of us are hoping for a boy, and others are hoping for a girl, but no matter what, I have no doubt that this baby is already greatly loved.

For some reason, this pregnancy feels different to me. All of my pregnancies have been exciting and most definitely wanted, but this one is different. With Emma, I was a mere 21 years of age when I became her mama. Boss and I were insanely happy and excited to bring a daughter into this world, but looking back, I was very young and naive. A baby having a baby. I remember right after having her, Boss was afraid to hold her for fear of breaking her. I just kept thinking, Are they really going to let me take her home? I can't believe they would trust me with such a little person! Somehow, with much joy and happiness, we survived Emma's first few years of life, and just like clockwork, two years later we had our sweet Kate. I was thrilled that we had sisters, and their relationship has been precious to watch develop over the past three years. Emma and Kate are the best of friends and partners in crime, rarely fighting, and I cannot imagine one without the other. Life was exactly as it was meant to be in our little family.

Many of you know that I experienced health problems after Kate's birth, and it was pretty much decided that we would not have any more biological children. We decided this as much for health reasons, as we did for sanity reasons. What I experienced emotionally after having Kate (much stress and anxiety which persisted for nearly a solid year after her birth), took a tole on our little family. Sometimes the anxiety was so overwhelming that it consumed me, and a lot of the work of caring for the girls was thrown on Boss. It was a very long year. So, while we desperately wanted more children, we had both agreed that adoption would be the path  to growing our family. I have wanted to adopt since I was a little girl, so this seemed as natural to me as having another one of our own. I was truly at peace with the path we were on.

However, it was not long after we started on our adoption journey that I realized how rocky the road was going to be. I knew it was going to be a lengthy process, but I didn't expect it to be so tough. Basically, the major roadblock for our family adopting was our living situation. We are houseparents at a group home for teenage girls with behavior problems. On paper, the girls that we live with sound quite scary, but the truth is that most of them are girls who got handed a rotten deal in life, but who are striving daily to overcome their pasts. They most certainly are not dangerous, or I would not live here with my own daughters in the first place. To date, we have served thirty kids, and there are only three that I can think of who I would not have gladly welcomed in to my own family, and those girls were removed from our program the minute they became a problem. Even though that is what I know to be the truth regarding our living environment, that is not what a caseworker sees when they review our home study. So, even though we passed our background checks, had good references, made enough money, and passed and completed everything in the home study process, we continued to be denied by agency after agency. The paperwork to cover a home study like ours was too intense for a private agency to take on. While I completely understood where they were coming from, it was still a hard pill to swallow since it seemed as though that was where our dreams were. In the end, we were left with three options.

Our first option was for us to quit our ministry here and adopt as a regular family. Definitely not an option for us at this time! I truly love my job and feel like working with these girls is where I am supposed to be at this time, and possibly for many years to come. I could not give up caring for five girls who need a place to call home, to justify filling my own need for one.

Our next option was to adopt a child already in the system, meaning we would go through the county and not through a private agency. Big difference! With a private agency, you are most often the only mama and daddy that the baby ever knows, and there is never a chance for the child to be abused or neglected before it becomes a part of your family. When you adopt through the county, even if you adopt an infant, the majority of times, damage has already been done. Not that I don't think these children deserve to be adopted, and I am so thankful there are families out there who are called to do so. The problem is that I work with the grown up versions of these kids day in and day out. I live with kids who were adopted by wonderful loving families by the age of one, but it was already too late for them. Too much abuse and damage had already been done, and they are not capable of bonding with their adoptive family, hence the reason they are living with us. I get tired of seeing adoptive moms who have tried for so long to reach these kids, and to love these kids, but the kids wants nothing to do with them and they probably never will. I see this over, and over, and over again. It is heartbreaking for both the child and the adoptive family, and I could not see putting my family through that pain. It is too much of a reality in our everyday life.

Our third option became to have another child of our own. After that year of intense anxiety lifted and I talked with a few more doctors, it became clear that there was no medical reason we could not have another child. I only had to feel ready to do so. I won't lie, it was hard to let go of my dream of adopting a little African American baby with the curliest little fro you ever did see, and I am not saying we will never adopt. Who knows what God has in store for our family? And I will not lie and tell you that I was not fearful of getting pregnant again, because I was, and still am, nervous about the pregnancy, but I also have more peace than I have had in a very long time. The baby I am carrying is the baby we have prayed for for two years. It feels like being pregnant for the very first time all over again. Every kick is a miracle, each week of growing a blessing. There is no other way to explain it, other than to say it is differently wonderful. I am a bit older now, and being a mama comes more naturally than it did during those early years. I am so very ready to be a mama of three! My three. The Z three.

So, are we having a little boy or a little girl? Tomorrow we will find out the answer to that question. But whoever this little one is, I have no doubt that they were meant to be a part of our family. We love you Baby Z Number Three, and we can't wait to call you by name!

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