The longer we wait for our referral, the less and less people seem to know what to say to us. So, inspired by this quote, I reached out to my friends in the adoptive community.
"The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?"
- Laura Bush
Seventeen waiting mothers chimed in on what we Do and Don't want you to say to us about adoption. Here is an abbreviated and anonymous collection of our thoughts.
The Words That HURT Us:
"The worst is when people say " oh when you get your kid watch out you will probably get pregnant, then you will have your own.""
"...most people don't say anything at all- I'm sure it's because they
don't know what to say. But to me, that's one of the most painful ways to
respond. I want to talk about it. It is real to us and I want it to be real to
them too (especially to the people we are closest with). To not bring it up is
to both deny the pain of what we're going through and to deny the reality that there really will be a child for us at some point. Can you imagine someone going through a pregnancy with their friends and family never asking how they are doing or how the baby is doing?"
"...my very least favorite thing to hear goes something like this: "Well, why don't you just try to get pregnant" or "Are you sure you don't want to just have 'one of your own'" or "Are you going to try to get pregnant now?" "You should get checked out, it might be an easy fix". I could go on but I'm starting to make myself angry :) The problem doesn't lie in whether or not we can become pregnant. The problem lies in the assumption. The assumption that since it is a harder and longer journey to our Ethiopian
child, we would want to 'take the easy road and just get pregnant'. That a
biological child would be more desirable."
"I guess my advice would be to be mindful of an adoptive mom's
feelings at baby showers."
"...everyone wants to tell me about "someone they know" that got pregnant as soon as they adopted and then proceed to tell me how I shouldn't worry because "it's" going to happen for me, clearly meaning pregnancy."
"We have been waiting so long, that people have stopped asking me about it. And when I bring it up they say, "Well, I was going to ask but..." trailing off with a regretful look. To which I want to say, "But WHAT?!"
"I too, having dealt with infertility get the "don't worry, as soon as you adopt
you will get pregnant". To which I respond "I hope not! My kids are in
"The average person doesn't see that pregnancy and adoption are so very similar. My friends asked me to co-host a baby shower, without thinking that it might be an emotional issue for me. My friends ask me to go see a new baby in the hospital, without understanding that it is a loaded environment. My daughter probably won't be born in a hospital. My daughter's mother could die without ever seeing a doctor. My daughter- the one who I will raise, and love, and take to college and shop for wedding dresses with- will be born without me. I'll never hold her as a newborn. I may never know what she looked like as a newborn. That is heartbreaking. I know that it is what we asked for and I will endure that loss for my daughter. But it is something I am walking around with on my heart every day. And I wish the rest of the world would respect that right now."
"We had a good friend who asked us after a garage sale adoption fundraiser (loudly between church services), "so did you make enough money to buy your next baby yet?" Yikes! Talk about the wrong comment to make!"
"My mother has asked a couple times about how I feel about how the process is going. When I get emotional about it, she gets worried and thinks this isn't a good idea and asks me again, "why don't you want to have your own kids? (don't even get me started on the whole "own kids" thing!). It is really beyond her that I would willingly put myself through all this pain. I think she thinks there is something wrong with me...some horrible fear of pregnancy or some deep psychological issue on why I don't want to get pregnant instead of feeling God calling us to this life."
"It drives me nuts when people say we should just give up and have our own child (which we can do, adoption is a choice for us). When people say this I really want to launch into the statistics of orphans, starving children, the aids pandemic, or some other truthful, but unhelpful conversation and then ask them if I should really just give up and try to conceive."
"During one [baby shower] I was sitting by a pregnant friend (not the one the shower was for) and person after person came up and said things to her such as, "You will have your baby here before you know it!" and things like that. And all of them knew I was adopting and I couldn't help but feel a little offended that no one said anything to me. I might not have a big belly but I'm still carrying around a child in my heart and longing for the day I get to see his or her face and have him or her with me in person."
The Words That HELP Us:
"To me, the most helpful and loving thing that people can do is to acknowledge and validate the pain we are feeling, to cry with us, and to pray for us, especially as we are in this waiting process. We just want the people in our lives to say, "We love you guys and we are so sorry that you are experiencing this pain right now. We are praying for you." That to me is so much more helpful than the person who glibly responds that we need to trust God and it's all going to work out."
"I just like it when people ask me real and honest questions. Questions like,
"So what happens next?" or "Why does it work that way?" Honest, real questions mean a lot to me. It lets me know that they are concerned."
"I like being able to educate people and be an advocate. I love when people walk away saying "Wow, I never realized there was so much to it..."
"I love when people ask questions about adoption, especially when they really seem interested."
"I just want them to say something, ask anything. I ache sometimes to share and don't know how to bring it up. There is no new news about our adoption, but I love to talk about it. About how my heart longs for my Ethiopian Children, how there isn't a night that goes by that my heart cries out to our Father in Heaven for them. It is such a silent process for those of us in the wait, but I think it is a beautiful thing to share our passion for God's children. So I would tell anyone who wants to say something or ask a question. Do it. Speak up. We would love to share!"
"I would rather have someone say something like, "I have no idea what that must have been like and how you must be feeling, but I love you and am here for you.""
"I guess I WOULD like people to acknowledge that this is hard road, a note of encouragement (not trite, easy answers), or a hug with a genuine, "let's go to lunch and you can share your struggles with me"...and then actually follow up and listen without getting that glazed look on their faces! I guess I want some support from people, even if it is a quick note to say they were thinking about us with genuine concern."
"...we have friends here in Flagstaff who brought their 9 month old son home from Ethiopia in August. This is their 2nd ET adoption as well and we have become good friends. I was at her baby shower once Makeo was home. I was overjoyed to go to the shower and celebrate with them, but for the next week, I was a mess. Irritable, moody, and quick tempered. I didn't realize what the problem was until she sent me a note. She sent me a thank you note for my shower gift, but also wrote, "I appreciate so much that you attended our shower. I KNOW how hard it must have been for you to be there knowing how much you ache to have your little one in your arms. Your friendship is so valuable to us! We are praying for you and for your referral. Thank you!" I couldn't stop crying tears of relief when I got that note. It was probably the most thoughtful note I had ever received concerning the adoption process and I felt validated that this is indeed difficult."
"The very best way one person has reacted is every.single.time she sees me she gets really excited and asks if we've heard anything yet. I always have to say no but she reassures me it WILL happen."
"Our small group also prays for us to get our referral every week. Even when I feel defeated and shrug my shoulders saying they can pray if they feel like it. They pray with such sincerity and urgency that I always end up in tears."
"I want people to acknowledge that we're adopting and even though it has taken longer then we hoped, that it will happen and that they are happy for us."
These were our uninhibited feelings on this emotional and sensitive subject. I truly hope that our words help those around us to understand what we need right now. In the comments I received from the waiting mothers, there were so many beautiful words about the children we are waiting for. I will close with some of those thoughts...
How We Feel About The Children We Are Waiting For:
"As a Momma who has been blessed with 2 children of my womb and 2 of my heart (one of those whom I will finally meet in 3 weeks), let those who tell you such things know from my own testimony ... that ALL my children are MY children, MY OWN ... loved the same and as much as the next. Nothing different in the way I love and adore them, except the way in which the Lord brought them into our family. All of them call me Mommy and all of them are MINE ALL MINE (Well ...of course HIS first and foremost)."
"And to the lady that said "you wouldn't understand unless you have had your own" I would say, "and you can't understand the love of adoption unless YOU have experienced it". As hard as this extreme slow down in Ethiopia has been, I am still so grateful that God has called us to adoption. I am amazed every day at the miraculous way God grows a love in my heart for a child on the other side of the world. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing."
"Those people who say that it is different to have your "own," they don't
understand the tremendous blessings and gifts of being called to this journey. They may never know. So I always try to say something like, "Well this has been different, but it has been every bit as exciting, emotional, and wonderful as being pregnant. I'm so THANKFUL that I have gotten to experience this.""
If you have not already been to Give1Save1.com, go now!
The idea behind their site is to get 30,000 people to sign up to donate $1 every week. They call this group of people "the Dollar Mob." Their theory is if they can get 30,000 people in their Dollar Mob and those people are each donating $1 a week (which can be done automatically with PayPal and takes a whole 35 seconds to sign-up for), then they could give $30,000 to a different organization or family each week. EACH WEEK. That is an entire adoption paid for in a week, or a new car for a non-profit, or food for an orphanage... there are literally endless possibilities.
The Narunsky's- the AWAA Ethiopia family the Dollar Mob is hitting this week.
But they need those 30,000 people to sign up. Now I know you agree with me that there are definitely 30,000 people in the United States of America who would love to be in the Dollar Mob. I mean, it's so simple! It's a dollar. Who can't spare a dollar? And you get the thrill of being a part of something huge and helping someone new every week. So of course they'll be able to find 30,000 people, right?
Well, they've been working on this for several months now and you know how strong their Dollar Mob is? $21. That's it.
So I'm asking YOU to sign up. I'm not asking you to think about the other people who could or should sign up. I'm not asking you to consider how other people will probably eventually sign up. I'm asking YOU to sign up and join the Dollar Mob. Right now. Seriously. Yourself.
I know, you're like, isn't that cute... she's talking to the other people. No, I'm talking YOU. For real.
Because seriously, it's a dollar. A flippin' dollar. And I know you can spare it.
But most of all I want you to do it because you're going to be surprised to find out what this one dollar actually buys for you. Because there is nothing, literally nothing better, you can do for yourself, than to do something for someone else.
I know you'll thank me later. Now, go sign up. Right now.
Angi and I set out the Because Every Mother Matters business cards and brochures. As customers came and went we would quickly mention that all of the proceeds were going toward BEMM to support their work with pregnant woman in East Africa.The message was well received. So many people asked questions about BEMM, which led to questions about our Linton First Christian Church Orphan and Adoption Ministry, which led to questions about our own adoptions. I talked continuously Friday and Saturday. I talked so much that I lost my voice.
Early in the day on Friday, a woman named Lisa found our booth. I started in with my BEMM introduction, but she stopped me to say that she understood! Her brother is a doctor in Zimbabwe and she has friends from Indianapolis who recently brought home an adopted African son. Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about!
Lisa and her husband Sean were at the festival with their concession booth. They sell the most wonderful cinnamon rolls and beignets. Lisa and Sean have an interesting story of their own. Now they live in Kansas and travel Indiana festivals from July to October with their concessions. Their happiness is contagious.
Folks from a few different churches approached us to find out more about our Orphan and Adoption Ministry. Two women from one church spoke with Angi for a long time. They took down her information and since the festival they have gotten in touch with her to schedule us to speak about Because Every Mother Matters to their congregation in November. Because they want to get involved too.
A pastor from another local church approached us Saturday morning with hot chocolate. He talked to us about adoption and the orphan crisis and then asked if he could pray with us. Adults and Children from their church swooped in on us and circled our booth. They prayed for our adoptions, for BEMM, and for orphans around the world.
Me, Tim Cooper (hidden by my giant head), Angi Cooper, Debbie Sale and Layla Sale
Saturday, we got a surprise visit from Debbie Sale, another AWAA Ethiopia mother who lives in Indiana. She came home from Ethiopia with her daughter Layla last month.
As we talked to people, the business cards and brochures started disappearing. Our jewelry, headbands, everything from our booth started to thin out. By Saturday evening our booth was getting empty and our money box was getting full.
Before the festival we'd been able to sell $124 in headbands, thanks to my husband's co-workers and my sister's salon. Thursday night I told Angi that if we could send Steffany a check for $500 I would feel like we'd been a success. But by Friday evening we'd already brought in more than $500!
So on the way over Saturday morning I prayed that we would be able to break $1000. And by late Saturday afternoon we had $1100. And then Lisa showed up...
She and Sean had talked and they decided to tithe 10% of their total concession sales for the whole weekend to Because Every Mother Matters.
At 10:30, in the dark as the park emptied and vendors loaded their things to go home, Lisa and Sean came down with a stack of bills. Their tithe put us over $1500. Three times what I had hoped for.
Doing God's work... with a lot of butter and sugar.
In a tight little circle outside in the dark, the three of us and our husbands prayed. Angi could hardly get the words out. All I could think was Thank You God for letting me be a part of this.When Angi finished praying, Lisa said, "So, where's church?
" Sunday morning they came to Linton First Christian Church with 8 dozen cinnamon rolls
. We sat together and afterward we went out to lunch together. When I hugged Lisa goodbye I told her, "I couldn't have imagined Friday morning that this is what I'd be doing Sunday afternoon." When Jeff Seevers wrote a post about Because Every Mother Matters in August he couldn't have imagined that it would lead to $1500 raised at a festival in Indiana in October. He could have just not bothered to write the post at all. I could have sent them $25 and left it at that. Lisa and Sean certainly could have kept their ten percent. But just like Steffany's story begins..."You never know the impact that will be made when you choose to get involved in someone else's life. It may start off as a simple gesture. A smile. A friendly hello. In the midst of a tiring journey when all you want to do is veg out, tune out, you instead choose to reach out.
If you would like to purchase any of the items seen in any of the photos, please leave a message! Some items remain and more can be made! BEMM headbands can be ordered directly here. Visit Angi and I at the Linton Fall Festival October 29th where we'll be raising funds for our orphan and adoption ministry and at the Linton Holiday Bazaar November 5th where we will be raising funds for our own adoptions.
And if you're at the Covered Bridge Festival in Montezuma this week say hi to Sean and Lisa at the Bakerman Stand! And seriously, try a cinnamon roll!
One of our ideas for helping Because Every Mother Matters was to do a booth at the Apple Festival. Angi ran with it and things started to fall into place.
On a Saturday we had a big turnout of girls and women from our church working with us to make jewelry to sell in the booth.
Over Labor Day weekend Angi discovered button bracelets and thought those would be a great thing to sell for BEMM, if only she had the buttons. Without ever asking, the next day at church a member of the congregation came up to her to say that he had a whole bag of old buttons that she could have. If she thought she could use them.
My friend Tonia handmade three stuffed elephants. My sister-in-law Lori donated two purses. My mother-in-law and a few others from church knitted headbands, gloves, hats, blankets and baby clothes. Angi made faux stained glass windows. The booth started coming together.
Originally, I wasn't going to be able to be at the festival on Friday, because I had to work. But the night before things worked out so that my co-worker Wendy could cover for me. I was so thankful that I was able to be there for both days.
Thursday night Angi packed up half of the furniture from her home and we set up shop. We could not have imagined all that would happen in that little booth over the next two days.
Part Three coming tomorrow...
And we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good. Romans 8:28
On August 23rd I had a conversation with my dad about adoption. We talked about the number of orphan care organizations versus the absence of organizations preventing orphans. To prevent a child from being orphaned in the first place is the greatest thing we could do, right? But where were the people trying to do that?The very next morning I came across this post, Numbers Mean Nothing, on our friends the Seevers adoption blog. It was a post about Because Every Mother Matters. I hadn't heard of them before. I was intrigued because Jeff wrote the post himself and it seemed like an uncommon post for a man to write. So I went to the BEMM website for the first time. An hour later I had read every word on their site and emailed Steffany Boster (the woman behind BEMM) to simply say, "I love what you are doing. How can I help you?
"I wanted to write her a great big check. But we're stuck still trying to finance the rest of our adoption, so the best I could have done was write a check for $25. That would have been easy. But it wouldn't have been enough.
Click the photo to read about the creation of BEMM.
I emailed Angi the link and my exact words were, "What can we do for these people?!" Finally, an organization trying to keep mothers alive for their children. Within a few days Angi and I were Skyping with Steffany. It was a little bit weird to skype with a total stranger! But we were blown away by her story
. And even more excited than ever to help. On BEMM.org Steffany's story from 2007 starts like this..."You never know the impact that will be made when you choose to get involved in someone else's life. It may start off as a simple gesture. A smile. A friendly hello. In the midst of a tiring journey when all you want to do is veg out, tune out, you instead choose to reach out.
"It would have been easier for Angi and I to write her a check or buy something from her shop, but we felt a nudge to do more. To take a step out in faith and try to do something bigger.
Steffany Boster in Ethiopia
Part Two coming tomorrow...
Angi and I are getting ready for our BEMM booth at the Apple Festival in Bloomfield Friday and Saturday (October 7th and 8th). We are selling these awesome Tacky 4 Africa headbands. They sent us 40 to sell, but we've already sold about 15 of them! So if you see one you'd like and want me to set it aside for you, just let me know. They are $10 or 2 for $18.For those of you who don't live in the area, you can purchase headbands and handmade cards directly from BEMM here.Also, through Sunday, 25% of all Mary Kay sold through www.marykay.com/brandydwade will go toward BEMM.To read more about BEMM go to their website here.
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait."
"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.
"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.
"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"
He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.
"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.
"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.
"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.
"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."