Category Archives: Motherhood

03.05.16This love…

Friends, it’s been too long. When we brought our sweet boy home in July, I was determined to soak up every moment. We had waited for so long for our precious baby that I didn’t want to miss a thing. For me, soaking up those early days meant giving myself permission to simply live each day, instead of write about them. I wanted to experience the highs and the lows without feeling the need to chronicle each moment. So the past eight months aren’t written in a journal or a blog—instead, they’re emblazoned on my heart, where I will treasure them always.

I have to say, in the days leading up to our baby boy’s homecoming, I was filled with fear. You see, we knew about sweet Crew, but we didn’t know if he’d be ours—if we’d get to call him our son. Daily, even hourly, I was on my knees praying, “Lord, I’ve never met this precious baby—I don’t even know what he looks like—but already love him madly and deeply. Would You allow us to bring him into our family? Would You entrust him to our care as we raise him up to know and follow You?”

And I’d rise to my feet again, unable to stop the tears from forming two perpetual rivers down my cheeks. What if his birthparents don’t choose us? What if they do, but we fail as parents? What if the wait has made me bitter, and I can’t find joy in motherhood?

That last one scared me the most. I have a cynical bent by nature. And, while this journey of mine has brought me closer to the Lord, it’s also made it harder for me to find joy in the little things. (Something I know the Lord is working on in me….)

But, by God’s grace, when we got the call and finally heard these words “I’m so happy to share that the birthparents have chosen you!” we felt joy. Unspeakable joy. And the very next day, when Crew’s birthparents rounded the corner, holding him in their arms, I thought my heart would burst with happiness.

The pain of the wait melted away—it vanished. And in its place was peace. This is why we had to wait. We were waiting for you. The Lord wanted to shape us into parents who would point you back to Him, sweet Crew. All those years, you weren’t ready for us yet—and we weren’t ready for you. But here we are—in God’s perfect timing. We’re a family.

I look back at these past eight months, and I’m just in awe. What a good God we serve, friends. He is just so faithful. He has given me love I didn’t know was possible for my son. This love, it makes getting up early a joy (most days) because I’m greeted with this sweet face.

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This love, it makes you laugh at the craziness of motherhood. You spit up all over your pants? No worries, little man. Mama loves seeing those chunky baby thighs.

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This love, it makes you breathe in those quiet moments—willing yourself to remember the way his tiny body feels in your arms.

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This love, it makes you celebrate the milestones—discovering the world anew through your baby’s eyes.

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This love, it changes you—forever.

And this love, it’s just a glimpse, a tiny glimmer of the love our Savior has for us. He delights in us. He calls us His own.

I had a hunch when I was writing from the valleys of our struggle to adopt, that one day I’d look back at those years and they wouldn’t hurt quite so bad. I knew I’d be able to see God’s glory shining through the cracks of my broken dreams as He fashioned them into something far more beautiful. But, friends, I had no idea. I could not have imagined the indescribable beauty and sheer joy He would bring.

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” —Psalm 30:11–12

05.08.15Me, too…

It’s been three years, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up to the happy sounds of my precious baby boy in the next room. I smiled, heading into his nursery to pick him up. I carried him to the changing table, pausing to grab a cute outfit from the dresser drawers below. I made goofy faces as I talked to him; he laughed and cooed back.

As if on cue, my guy walked in with a bottle and grabbed my little man from my arms.

“You go get ready,” he said. “I’ve got this.”

I paused in the doorway, looking back at the now-familiar sight of my two favorite guys swaying gently in the rocker. I blinked back tears.

“If only this could last,” I thought.

You see, we had found out that week that our little man wouldn’t be ours to care for much longer. A judge had reviewed his case, and had decided it’d be best for that precious baby to live with one of his family members. We knew these early mornings of diapers and bottles were numbered.

We walked out the door ahead of schedule that day—a minor miracle in and of itself. My guy drove the few miles to church slowly, both of us tearing up as we heard our little man chatting away in the backseat.

We headed for the side entrance, neither of us sure we could hold it together long enough to say hello to anyone. The music started, and with it came the tears I had fought back all morning.

“Lord, I don’t understand,” I prayed. “This is my first Mother’s Day—it’s what I’ve longed for and dreamed of—why does it have to hurt so badly?”

The rest of the service—and that whole day, really—were a blur. I’d forget for a moment that we were losing our foster son, only to have the pain wash over me again and again.

Nine days later, our little guy was gone.

And each day since, I’ve felt stuck in limbo. In my heart, I am a mother. But I have no child of my own. As the weeks and months have slipped by, I’ve prayed, “Lord, let this be the year I can celebrate Mother’s Day again. Let this be the year you bring us a baby.” And then, May arrives, and with it a flurry of celebrations. Every year, it’s almost enough to make me forget my pain. Almost.

But I know I’m not the only one who feels this pain.

For some of you, you’ve prayed for years, asking God to give you a child of your own. But every month brings with it a cruel reminder that your womb is still empty.

Others of you read the positive test with utter joy, as your dream of growing your family became a reality. Then that dream shattered mere days or weeks later, leaving you hollow and broken.

And I know for others, you experienced the joy of motherhood in all its fullness, only to lose your precious child far, far too soon.

Maybe still others of you are walking the long road to adoption with me. And it’s hard to feel hope amidst the piles of paperwork and years of waiting.

Friends, our Jesus sees each and every one of us. He sees our tears. And He longs to ease these burdens we’re carrying.

I think one of the ways He does that is by giving us each other. He gives us women who can say, 

Me, too

You see, when we share our stories, we give each other hope—hope that we’re not alone in our pain, hope that someone else just might understand our story, and hope that this journey to motherhood isn’t over yet.

If you can relate, would you chime in with your, “Me, too,” in the comments below? Or maybe you know someone who, like me, is bracing herself for Sunday and all its pain. Would you share this with her? Like me, she needs to know she’s not alone.

Praying for all of you mothers this weekend, those with children and especially those without.

Special thanks to fellow waiting mama Amy Lambert at Glimpses of Hope and her words that inspired this post.

02.06.15On motherhood

For six sweet months, I was a mom. I freaked out over every bump on the freeway as we brought home our foster son from the hospital. I quickly learned how to swaddle his tiny frame to help him sleep more soundly. It also didn’t take me long to jump to pro status in the diaper changing category. I found crazy new ways to bounce and sway as I settled him. And I figured out how handy it could be to keep a few pacifiers in the console of my car, knowing he would spit his out and start screaming not long after we got on the road.

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I fed him, burped him, played with him, and advocated fiercely for him as his case moved through the foster care system. He was mine. And I was his—his mom.

Then, one day, he was gone—the judge deciding he should be with his birth family. And suddenly, I was no longer a mom. I had no one to soothe, no one to frantically make bottles for, and no one to cradle in my arms.

As hard as it was to lose him, I would learn in the weeks and months to come just how difficult it was to lose my identity as a mom. I went from struggling through the high highs and crazy low lows of motherhood to nothing—to an empty nursery and a broken heart.

Knowing and caring for him forever changed me. I didn’t revert back to my pre-foster-son self when he left. There was no reset switch—and I wouldn’t have wanted one anyway.

But all around me, life moved on. I felt frozen, stuck in limbo. I had experienced motherhood in all its fullness and frailty, but I no longer had a child to call my own. The world around me no longer recognized me for who I was—and who I still am—a mom.

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Since then, every time someone has asked, “Do you have kids?” all I hear is, “Are you a mom?” And I’ll be honest—I’m not sure I’ve always responded as graciously as I should. I’ve found myself saying, “No, but we’re adopting! And we had a foster son—for six months! But he’s now with his birth family…”

Oh, those poor people. They thought they were asking an innocent question. Little did they know they were striking an all-too-raw nerve.

I realized my responses were falling squarely in the TMI category, but I justified it by saying I wanted to validate my foster son and his time with us. While that’s partly true, I’ve realized since that what I was really validating was my motherhood.

My role as a mom felt threatened, ignored. And it hurt me, to my core.

I was talking to a sweet friend of mine one afternoon, and she said, “You ARE a mama, Shannon. And I can’t wait to meet the next little one who will call you that.”

I couldn’t hold back the tears. I felt validated—like someone finally saw me for who I still was, despite my empty nursery.

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These days, I’m learning to embrace the part of me that is still a mom, learning that it’s okay to share funny “mom” stories, and to offer tips on what worked for us with our foster son.

I’ve also found that my experience with motherhood gives me beautiful empathy for other moms in the thick of raising little ones, while allowing me to resonate deeply with those still waiting, praying, and aching for a child to call their own.

What a precious gift from our great God.

If you’ve lost a little one, you haven’t lost your motherhood. It’s ingrained in you—and will be part of you forever. It makes you more selfless, more loving, and somehow able to run on little to no sleep.

Friends, if you know someone who has lost a little one, no matter the situation, would you affirm her? Affirm her role as a mom. And affirm that her journey to motherhood hasn’t come to an end.

When we take the time to really see others and to speak into their lives, we get to live in breathtakingly beautiful community. Grateful to do that with each of you.