Saturday, March 17, 2012

Things I Don't Do

I just enjoyed an amazing two days at the Hearts at Home National Conference. It's a conference to encourage and educate moms and is spiritually based. I heard really wonderful speakers and came away with strategies around organization, nutrition, parenting and improving our marriage. The workshop: 50 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Your Husband was wonderful and am already using some of the tips. We also enjoyed a fabulous Mom's Night Out with wonderful music and an improv group.

This morning there was a really moving talk titled: What To Do When God Says "Wait" The presenter spoke about her experience trying to adopt, coming close but not getting a baby, and the heartbreaking waiting time. I'd read her bio and I purposely preferenced this workshop last as I thought I'd have a hard time holding it together and wasn't sure I wanted to get emotional in the middle of the conference. But God had another plan and I was matched with the workshop.  I'm sure glad I was--I wasn't the only one in tears and there was much I needed to hear.

But now to expand on the title of this blog "Things I Don't Do," This phrase was from speaker Linda Anderson, founder of Mom to Mom Ministries.  I loved her talk as it truly struck a chord with me.  Linda guest posted on Hearts at Home CEO Jill Savage's blog earlier this week and I'm pasting a section of this blog below.

Linda Anderson's Post (Click here for Linda's guest blog to read her entire post.)

I was suffering from a common mom-malady, which I think has intensified recently: TMS (The Too Much Syndrome) Recognize it?

• TMI (Too Much Information) We are bombarded 24/7 with cable news, the internet, Facebook friends, even magazines at the supermarket—all full of suggestions for who we are to be as moms and what we should be doing for our kids.

• TMA (Too Many Activities) All good things. But too much of even a good thing is too much. Do your kids see only the “van view” of you– the back of your head while carpooling?

• TMT (Too Much Technology) The noise is deafening. Are you (or your kids) texting your way through life as it passes you by? Do you know your FB friends better than your family?

• TME (Too Many Expectations) We expect too much of our husbands, our kids—and mostly ourselves. Our “To Do” lists are killing us.

So what’s a mom to do? Or, put more appropriately, what’s a mom to not do? My suggestion? Try making a list of things you don’t do. As a recovering perfectionist mom, I gradually compiled my own list of things I just didn’t do—in order to do the things that mattered most.

Then recently, I came across author Shauna Niequist’s chapter “Things I Don’t Do” in her wonderful little book Bittersweet (p. 53-60). If you want to pick up the book, you’ll find her list inspiring.—and freeing.

Making a “Things I don’t do” list is hard. There’s a lot a mom just can’t cut out of her schedule. Like diapers and meals and laundry. But if you think clearly about your priorities and creatively about your daily life, you’ll be surprised at what you can let go.

Here are a few “Don’t Do That” items from my own list:

• Gourmet meals: My kids were well-fed and nourished, but no Julia Child here. I once asked my grown son what meal he most remembered from his childhood. His reply? “Those “Steakum” sandwiches you made before Little League games”! Full disclosure: He went on to list other slightly more sophisticated family meal favorites. But you get the picture.

• Crafts—or anything handmade: Just not my gift! I’m not a “crafty” person. I often wish I were. But somehow my kids survived without hand-sewn Halloween costumes and Martha Stewart decorations on their birthday cakes.

• White glove cleaning: Being a first-born half-German recovering perfectionist, I do need a certain degree of order in my life. So I did pick up toys and clear the countertops fairly regularly. But deep cleaning (like washing the kitchen floor frequently)? Not so much.

• Gardening: Here’s another gift I wish I had. But I don’t. I did assist one of our sons (with the help of a Grandpa) in raising tomato plants one or two seasons. But that’s about it.

I hope this sampling from my “Don’t Do” list will not alarm you. My kids seem to have survived quite well into healthy, happy adulthood. But I do hope it will inspire you. Making this list—and living it without guilt—can be very freeing!

What’s on your “I don’t do that” list?
I can so identify with Linda's "Too Much Syndrome."  In fact, I arrived late to the session as I had stayed behind to speak with the previous presenter.  So I stood in the back of the balcony--out of sight of Linda and the other attendees and proceeded to respond to e-mails while listening with one ear to the first part of her talk. To be fair, I had kept my cell phone in my bag all day and had been only focused on the workshops. But for some reason I felt the need to multitask during this one--maybe because I was driving back to Chicago directly following and wanted to get on the road. So when she spoke about "Too Much Technology," I chuckled to myself, put my phone away, and gave the talk my full attention.

Coincidentally, my women's small group at church is reading Wayne Muller's A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough. Reviewer Frank Ostaseski describes this book as "an antidote to ‘more is better’ and the madness of multitasking. It offers a respite from the endless cycle of seeking that perpetuates our suffering. This book is a great reminder of the joy of keeping it simple, of the abundance present in this moment, and that even these few words are enough.”

I'm behind on my reading as the past few months have been quite busy.  I plan to finish the book and then spend some time in prayer and reflection looking at my priorities, how I spend my time, and what I do and don't do. I'm really grateful for experiences like this conference to get me out of my routines and challenge me to be more intentional.

Monday, March 5, 2012

To Nina on Her 41st Birthday

Today my dear friend Nina would have turned 41.  She passed away unexpectedly seven years ago and I deeply miss her.  She was a wonderful mom to two little girls (who are getting less little all the time).  She was a loving wife to one of my best friends from high school.  She came from a caring, fun Italian family--I've seldom felt more immediately welcome than I did when visiting her family. 

Nina was an amazing friend.  We would go out dancing downtown at Excalibur, talk about life for hours, and wash each others feet while attending Holy Thursday mass together at the church we shared (Northwestern University's Sheil Catholic Church).  I last spoke to her on the phone about a month before she died.  I had lived in New Jersey for six years and I was moving back to Chicago in a couple months. We talked about how wonderful it would be to be in the same city again and not just see each other when I came back home to visit.

Nina had a huge heart.  She was one of those people who genuinely cared about others.  She regularly volunteered at the downtown Evanston soup kitchen that our church supports.  Every year since she passed, her husband, daughters, father, brother and sister-in-law (and their kids), and Bill and I have cooked at the soup kitchen in her memory.  Sometimes a couple of our high school friends have joined us, too. After cooking we celebrate Nina with a dinner at a nearby restaurant.  I also have a mass said for her at our church. I look forward to this tradition as it honors her spirit and keeps Nina alive for me in a way.

At Christmastime every year Nina and her husband would prepare breakfast to be served at the soup kitchen/homeless shelter where another volunteer and her son would serve the meal.  The woman who served the food is an amazing writer--she has a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern's Medill and wrote for the Chicago Tribune for 30 years).  When she heard of Nina's death she wrote the most beautiful tribute.  I re-read it every year, re-send it to our close friends, have a few tears, and remember Nina.  She really did have "a heart the size of Montana" as the writer Barbara describes.  I've pasted her writing below--I think it will touch you even if you didn't know her.

Lastly, I titled this post after the title of a play I saw back in high school "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday."  You may have seen the play, too, or the movie.  There are no similarities in their stories at all (other than leaving this world far too young and leaving a husband and children behind).  It just came to me as I was writing a title and seemed fitting.  I miss you Nina.

Here's Barbara's beautiful story of Nina

eggs, cheese, an ungodly hour

soon as the numbers beside my bed flash 4:01 sunday morn, i'll be unearthing myself from the covers, stretching a wary toe out into the cold and the black of christmas eve before most of the world gets with the program. 

it'll be time, as it has been for the past four christmas eve mornings, to wake a sleeping boy, now an almost-man child, and head out with our shopping bags and our crates of clementines to a soup kitchen where we'll be the ones to turn on the lights.  

and no doubt i'll be carrying with me the story of nina

for two christmases, nina was my compatriot in this pre-dawn drill of cooking the yummiest, oozingest christmas eve breakfast that ever there was. 

nina, she took the hard part. a one-time caterer, now a mother of two--two girls under three, mind you--she went to town on her end of the deal. and i'm tellin' you, the woman could cook.

you see, nina had a heart the size of montana. once, on one hour's notice, when no one showed to cook sunday-night supper, she turned her little family's tuna noodle casserole into tuna noodle for 40, and dashed it straight to the soup kitchen. 

but the thing about nina was that she was admittedly, emphatically, not a morning person, and certainly not with two little ones who needed to wake up to their mama. so she took what she called the day job, gave me the night job, or at least the still-dark-out start of the shift.

she made the strata, a haute strata, mind you, a huge one, a strata bulging with eggs and imported cheeses, sausage, potatoes and God only knows what. what i know is that when i plated it up to that long line of hungry souls in the chill of christmas eve morn, their eyes how they glistened, their tummies they growled. 

my end of the deal has to do with the 4 and the zeroes flashing at the side of my bed, nudging me up out from the covers. has me shuffling down the hall to rustle the sleeping heap i call my firstborn son. it's been my job to gather all that goes with the strata: the cocoa, the candy canes, the great mound of marshmallows. since it's christmas eve after all, and the folks we're feeding are homeless or sheltered in bunks down below from the kitchen, 12 to a room, we go for fresh-squeezed orange juice, serious stand-up coffee doused with industrial-sized shakes from the cinnamon shaker, and sweet breads of cranberry walnut or orange and pecan. 

for back-to-back christmas eves it worked just like that. we were a team, in touch through the phone. i'd talk to nina the day before to go over the plan. then, once home, and starting to wilt, i always called nina to give her play-by-play praise from the men and the women who came back for seconds and thirds of her strata. 

i never met nina the first year, but i fell in love with her over the phone. and i wasn't supposed to meet her the second year. 

only there in the dark, on a christmas eve that was frost-bitingly cold, as we pulled to the back stairs to unload, i was startled by carlights at 4:40 a.m.. in a dark south evanston alley, you don't want to be running into just anyone. and since nina always made such a fuss about not being up before dawn, she was the last one i expected to find there under the hood of a great arctic parka. i'd never seen her before, but i knew in an instant who those big brown eyes belonged to. "nina?" i called out. "what in the world are you doing awake?"

"we were running behind," she started explaining. "we stayed up late doing the tree and never got to deliver the strata, so we just decided to stay up and bring it over now," she said, laughing. and then barely a blink later, the vision under the fur-trimmed hood was gone in the dark of the too-early morn.
as always, the strata had the hungry and even the not-so-hungry coming back for more. and more. as always, i called later that morning to pass along every last kudo. 

that was the last time i talked to wonderful, generous, spontaneous nina

two months later, late at night, my phone rang. it was my friend harriett who lines up the cooks and the servers for soup kitchen; she was sobbing. in between sobs, i made out the words: "nina died this morning. she just died."

nina was 37, tops. her little girls, the ones who couldn't wake up without her, were 3 and 2. her husband, michael, the one who made the pre-dawn strata delivery, he was left alone in an emergency room, bundling together her things. nina had had a headache the day before, and within hours of walking into the ER, the doctors were telling her husband they were so sorry, she'd died. it was an aneurysm that couldn't be stopped.  

i decided then and there on the phone that night that every christmas eve breakfast from then on in would be in the spirit of nina, nina who could not do enough for the world. 

i called starbucks, hoping for a gift card for each soup kitchen soul. i went begging at the bread store, asking if i could pick up any unsold bread or sweet rolls to take it up a notch. 

i was thumbing through strata recipes, looking for one that might be like nina's. then my friend harriett called. the strata would be taken care of, she told me. nina's father and michael, her husband, would make it. they'd drop it off, in true nina style, the night before, but of course.  

so last christmas eve, nina's strata was, once again, the absolute hit of the soup kitchen counter.   

and i, the one spooning it out onto plates, couldn't stop thinking of the love of two men, her father, her husband, side-by-side in nina's kitchen, carrying on, following nina's instructions, line by line, layering their grief with the generous heart of the woman who all of us so achingly missed.

here's a thought: what if i get michael to share nina's recipe, and all of us whip up a batch of sweet nina's strata? and then, in the spirit of the woman with the unstoppable heart, we give it away to someone who needs reason to glisten this holiday season. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pictures of Diana

Many of you may recall that Cora spent the first ten weeks of her life in the nursery at our adoption agency--The Cradle in Evanston, IL.  She was lovingly cared for by nurses and volunteer "cuddlers" who ensured the babies got plenty of individual attention.  The Cradle was also so kind as to take a few dozen pictures of Cora so we could see her develop during those first few months.  They put these photos in a small album and gave it to us on the day we brought Cora home.

Cora's birthmom named her Diana and we kept that as a middle name: she is Corinne Joy Diana.  Her name was Diana during her time at The Cradle and they wrote that name in stickers on the cover of the photo album.  We keep it with Cora's bedtime books and she likes to look at it sometimes at bedtime.

After reading two books tonight she asked for the "Diana Book."  She looked through the pages and I said: "do you know this is you--Baby Cora."  She stopped on a close-up picture of her being held by a woman with only the woman's arms visible.  Cora pointed and said "Mommy." I said: "No, that's Baby Cora." "No!" she insisted "Mommy's right there" as she pointed to the woman's arms holding her.

This really touched me.  It seems like in her mind, I have always been there (and, I know Bill, too). That's certainly the way it feels from my end--I feel like she's always been my daughter.

On another note relating to our unsuccessful adoption: one of my favorite television shows, Parenthood, has a storyline regarding adoption.  On this week's show it appears that the birthmom may have had a change of heart just after birth.  This was painful to watch as it hit so very close to home--especially watching as the prospective adoptive mom sobbed in a hospital room and remembering feeling that same way not so long ago.

However, at the same time, I was very glad they had chosen to take the storyline this way.  It was somewhat healing to view and I don't believe this "alternate" adoption outcome is depicted very much in the media.  I think it could help current prospective adoptive parents watching prepare a bit more for this possibility.  We knew it was a possibility but truly didn't think it would happen to us.  I felt the show was very well done and look forward to continuing to follow it (albeit, through a few tears) in future weeks.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"You would have been so loved"

It was the wee hours of the morn last Wednesday.  I was up late working on a quick-turnaround consulting project.  Checking e-mail on a break, I read an e-mail from a mom's website with a touching blog entry from a woman describing her miscarriage.  I so related to her feelings and read most of the entry through my tears.

Her words: "you would have been so loved" really struck a chord with me.  We had so much love to give this baby.  We had already loved her for months and we had loved her parents (the birthparents), too.  

We stayed at the hospital Tuesday night after the baby was born and spent much of Wednesday in the birthparents' hospital room with the baby.  At this point we still really believed that they were moving forward with their adoption plan.  They took the baby home on Wednesday night as planned and we returned to our home with Cora. After they had time with the baby, we were to meet up a few days later to sign the papers.

After putting Cora to bed, Bill and I relaxed in front of one of our favorite tv shows Parenthood.  Bill asked if I would be all right watching it as it has an adoption storyline this season.  I said, of course, as the storyline was completely different--the birthfather wanted the potential adoptive parents to "buy" the baby.  However, about halfway through the episode there was an emotional scene between the birthmother and the potential adoptive mom Julia.  Julia refuses to give them money for the baby and as the birthmother is leaving, Julia says: "I would have been such a good mother to your baby."  We had to stop to the pause the show for awhile while I sobbed in Bill's arms.

These "might-have-beens" are hard for me. Yes, our baby would have been so loved and, yes, I believe that I would have been a good mom/we would have been good parents to their baby.  Yet, I also believe that the birthparents will be such good parents to their baby.  They had so much love for the baby that they were willing to make really difficult decisions they weren't open to before the birth.  Such as telling the birthmom's mother about the baby (they'd kept the pregnancy and birth a complete secret from her) and having the humility to move in with her until the birthfather got a job and they could afford to live on their own.

I love how the author below clings to the words of a song she heard in church.  That was so helpful to me as well--a different song, but one that really spoke to me of our journey.  I shared it in one of my longer facebook posts at the time and will share it again in a future blog post.

I attended an infant loss/miscarriage support group last month as was recommended in some of the support materials around adoption change of heart.  I thought I might feel different or they might resent me being there as I didn't lose a baby in the same way they did.  But they were so very welcoming and one woman told me afterwards that I was so welcome there saying "we all went home with empty arms."

I think I'll bring this beautiful and touching blog post with me to share at the next meeting.  The text of it follows below as well as a link to the author's blog.
 Mamapedia Voices
Mamapedia City Voices highlights the inside scoop on your city by selected writers, from up-and-coming mom bloggers to well-known mom experts.

He Loves Us

February 1, 2012
The spotting turned red around 1AM. I had a mild cramp and passed two tiny clots. I went to bed, and tried to lie very still in the hopes that maybe I had just overdone it this weekend. Maybe if I just rested, the baby could hold on.

As I fell asleep, the chorus from David Crowder Band’s song, “He Loves Us” ran through my head. We sang it in church yesterday,
“Oh, how He loves us so.
Oh, how He loves us.
Oh, how He loves us.”

S came to our room around 6:30AM. I told her it was too early to get up, and she could snuggle with me or go back to her bed. She crawled under the covers, and we laid on our sides facing each other. She wrapped her tiny arm and leg around me, because she wanted to “snuggle with the baby.” She cooed at my belly and told it how much Big Sister loved it. It took all my strength to hold back the tears. “You would have been so loved,” I thought to myself.

I dropped the girls off at my parents’ house, and called the OB’s office on my way to work. After I told them what was going on, they told me to come right in.

As I sat in the exam room waiting for the doctor, I focused on those lyrics. I’d been hearing them every waking moment this morning. It was a great comfort.

The OB came in and started the sonogram. As soon as the image appeared, it verified what I already knew in my soul. My perfect bean-shaped baby was nestled in its little home. Motionless. There was no heartbeat.

Tears were already sliding down my temple into my ears when the doctor spoke the words. She let me know my options then gave me some time to call my husband and get dressed and cry.

I decided to let the miscarriage just happen on its own. In the meantime, I have to figure out how to tell S. It will break her heart.

Jennifer Barr is a working (for the moment) mom to two amazing girls who are 4 and 2, and a blessed baby in heaven. She and her incredible husband enjoy life in the ’burbs. She blogs at Midwest MomMents.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Sleeping Over" in a Homeless Shelter

Last night I spent the night in a homeless shelter. Yes, you read that correctly. Our church supports the Lazarus House homeless shelter in St. Charles, IL and each month church members donate food. In addition, a volunteer spends the night helping out the staff. We had previously donated food and I'd always been tempted to volunteer for the all-night shift but never did. Then, last month, right after our unsuccessful adoption something prompted me to sign up to volunteer for the January date.

I've served at soup kitchens and homeless shelters since I was a kid.  In addition every year we cook a meal at an Evanston shelter in memory of a dear friend of mine who passed away.  So serving is not a new experience for me...but spending the night in a shelter felt a bit out of my comfort zone. 
I was told to arrive at 7 p.m. last night and I'd be staying until 7:30 a.m. this morning. I didn't know what I'd be doing other than helping and sleeping--I was told I'd get six to seven hours of sleep).  When I first arrived they gave me a tour. They house men, women, and families separately (the children are usually housed with the women). The two staffers I met were great people and really dedicated--one is the daughter of the shelter's founder so she definitely has service "in her blood."

Next, I was instructed to find sheets and blankets for my mattress and pull it into the director's office where I was to sleep. Then I hung out enjoying talking with some of the shelter residents until lights out at 11.

They needed a volunteer to "sleep over" as they are required by law to have two non-residents (staffer and a volunteer or two staff) there over night. The daytime staffer said this was in case of emergency. I commented to the nighttime staffer that little 5 foot 1 me is not going to be much help in an emergency. He wasn't a big guy himself and replied to me that he wouldn't be any help either. He said we would help direct folks if there was a fire drill or something of that sort but if two residents got in a fight, we'd just get "out of way." That wasn't super comforting but every resident I met was warm and friendly--not at all the surly type to pick a fight.

The staffer woke me up at 5:30 a.m. and I made multiple pots of coffee while putting out breakfast. He couldn't believe I slept well and I was surprised, too. I was up a few times as the mattress wasn't very firm but went right back to sleep--and I didn't need my friend's suggested earplugs, either. ;-)

On Sundays, all of the residents need to leave by 7 a.m. as the shelter is attached to a church and the shelter noise interferes with the services. They are able to come back later in the day, though. Everyone I met seemed in good spirits--many were going to play pool that morning at St. Charles Park District's Senior Center (they shared that it only cost $6 per YEAR to join.) They all joked with each other about their pool skills and exchanged good-natured trash talk. Like other times when I've volunteered in shelters, I was encouraged by what good spirits people can have even during a really tough time in their lives.

Several expressed that this was the best homeless shelter in the area. There was a big-screen TV in the gathering area as well as a computer for them to use.  It is a well-organized shelter and receives strong support from local churches, groceries, and businesses--including yummy donations from some of my favorites: Trader Joe's and Fresh Market. :) They also provide services to people getting back on their feet, allowing them to rent their own dorm-style rooms. The rent money is then banked and saved for them to give them some starter funds when they move out.

It was a really good experience and I would definitely volunteer to stay over again as well as continue to bring food.  I was sharing with a friend before going that I think one reason I volunteered was to help me get out of myself a bit. I still feel really sad at times about this baby that we thought we'd have with us right now.  Helping out such as this really helps me focus on all the blessings in my life and put everything in perspective.

If any of you are local and want to know more about the shelter, wish to bring food, or are considering "sleeping over" yourself, feel free to contact me or visit their website at:

My Philosophy on Blogging

Welcome back to my blog!  Yes, after four posts in my first nine days as a blogger, it's now been a month to the day since I last blogged. Back in early December when I was weighing whether or not I should start a blog, one big argument against was the time it would take away from my already busy life.  I especially didn't want it to take time away from my family. Thus, I made a deal with myself that I would blog when I wanted to and when I had time. I wouldn't feel the need to blog with a certain frequency and just write when the spirit moved me. 
Since I last wrote I've continued to heal from our unsuccessful adoption.  We're back on the adoption list to be matched again and hopeful but, understandably, a bit guarded.  I met with the head of our adoption organization who had a lot of wisdom to share (I'll elaborate more in a future post).  Per her suggestion based on birthparent input,  I've been taking time to edit our adoption profile to streamline it more which will allow for more/bigger pictures. 
I look forward to sharing in future blog posts some more detail as to how I'm doing as well as share some communications I've had with the birthmom over the past month. In fact, I already have a couple of blog posts written in my head which I'll commit to (electronic) paper and post in coming weeks.

But today I thought I'd share my first blog post on a non-adoption related topic. I will post that one directly following this one so stay tuned. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"I shall call the pebble Dare"

Today Cora and I drove about an hour north to meet with the owner of Angel Adoption--the organization we have been working with who had matched us with this last opportunity.  We had a good meeting, she was very open and had "been there" herself.  She had adopted three children but had just as many adoptions that had been unsuccessful.

She advised looking at every adoption opportunity as if it had only a 50% success rate.  She caveated her statement by saying when speaking with the birthparents, really try to be fully engaged and expect that it will work.  But privately, when talking with each other and others, employ the 50% rule and act as if it's just as likely it won't happen.  Don't go buy things for the baby, don't convert our guest room to Cora's new room so the baby can have the nursery.  All of these actions helped me convince myself that the baby coming to us was a reality when it can't be--not until the birthmother has held it in her arms and decided she still wishes to move forward with an adoption plan.  She needs to make that second adoption plan post-birth.

After discussing tonight at dinner, Bill and I decided that we definitely wanted to pursue adoption further, at least seeing out the balance of our current contract with Angel Adoption.  The contract is for two-years--we paid a set amount upfront for them to to match us over that period with their nationwide network.  Thus, we still have 18 months remaining on our contract--already paid.  In addition, they have a 96% success rate in matching within two years and this is very impressive--even unheard of--in adoption.

I shared with her how disappointed we had been with the social service agency who had provided our counseling.  She was disappointed as well with the examples I shared, yet she agreed with the decision we've made.  After weighing this carefully, we plan to continue to keep notes of where we've been dissatisfied but then wait until our adoption and post-placement is complete before sharing this with our social worker's superior.  Adoption social services isn't objective like processing a check at a bank, there are many subjective decisions that could go in our favor or not.  We don't want to risk getting on the bad side of our social worker who is in her first-year on the job.  If she doesn't take constructive feedback well, our next experience could be even more difficult.  However, when we are done, we do plan to meet and share our concerns with her supervisor.

The Angel Adoption head also pointed out that it is probable that we'll be matched in a state other than Illinois next time (I believe she said only 15% were in Illinois).  In this case, we would be the only ones working with our agency and the birthparents would be counseled by an agency in their state.

She also took a fresh look at our adoption profile and gave me some excellent feedback as to how to make it stronger and more attractive to birthparents.  We'll be making these changes in coming days and once it's updated, I'll post a link here in case you're interested.  They also recommend making a video of us and our home to introduce us to the birthparents.  She shared that this was a key differentiator and we plan to develop this soon as well.

I titled this blog post: "I shall call the pebble Dare."  This is a line from "By My Side" from the musical Godspell.  I've always loved the musical and this song is my favorite with the beautiful harmonies.  I was listening to it this past weekend and some of the lyrics really resonated with what I'm feeling right now. The "dare" we're taking after three adoption experiences that did not go as planned (Cora's was completed but there was still a difficult six-day delay). The "dare" we're taking as we open ourselves up to potentially experience this pain once again if an adoption doesn't succeed.  And then, the repeating chorus of "By my side, By my side" which I interpret to be God walking this uncertain walk with us and carrying us at times.  And, on a larger scale, our families and our friends--all of you who are sharing with us, caring for us, and praying with us on this journey. So we don't have to "dare" alone.