The Final Adoption Update: Finally!

Last week ended much different than it started. On Tuesday, November 1st, we learned about an opportunity to show our adoption profile book to a birth mom who would be picking a home for her baby.  Then on Thursday, November 3rd, God said it is our turn.

A little after 11am on Thursday morning we got a call from our social worker asking if we were ready for a road trip and with an emphatic “YES” we grabbed a car seat, and loaded diaper bag and headed down to Little Rock just 45 minutes later.  The 3 hour drive was full of excitement, anticipation, questions of what he may look like, and pinching ourselves to see if this was actually happening.

We arrived at the Bethany Christian Services office in Little Rock, Arkansas around 3:15 and just moments later we met the son we have been praying for, yearning for, and preparing for. The son whom the Lord has set aside for US, he was born to be ours, all these years waiting and trying for a child and God knew all along that this sweet baby boy was coming, at the perfect time, in the most perfect way!

Our sweet baby boy is the bravest, sweetest, cutest, most chill baby!  His little 2 month old life has held a lot of uncertainty for him, but God knew exactly what He was doing.  He was born August 29, just 11 days after our failed adoption. And he entered our lives on November 3rd needing TLC that only the right parents can give him.  We loved on, kissed, cradled, cared for, and loved him every minute of the 5 day wait period when his mom could change her mind. Then at 4:30 on Tuesday, November 8th, he became unofficially officially ours!

This afternoon we went to court to hear the judge decree what God knew all along, that Bridger James is our son and we get to love and care for him FORVER!

So without further ado…. we would like to introduce you to BRIDGER JAMES SIRECI! Our Son!

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The Wait

The wait is real, and sometimes quite heavy. I write for myself, Meghan, for this update. The wait is much different for me than it is for Jonathan. Maybe that is why we are in this together. Jonathan lives very much in the moment. He prays for our child daily, yet his connection to him/her hasn’t hit his heart like it has hit mine. FullSizeRenderI feel the weight of the wait daily. If I am not thinking about this baby that will someday be ours, the thought isn’t far from my mind.

I felt the weight of the wait right after our social worker left our house after the last home visit. It was the same weight that I felt when Jonathan left on his deployments….knowing he would be back, but knowing that the days would be so long and it would seem like eternity until the reunion happened. The weight goes straight to the heart…the kind of weight that grabs my heart and squeezes so tight that sometimes it is hard to breathe.

I was talking to the Lord as I drove home from church today. I was asking Him how to do this wait. The intensity ebbs and flows sometimes on a minute by minute basis. Today, it seemed like He told me, “Maybe you are told the wait could be longer than a year…or you got news that your profile book is being shown to a expectant mom…or you hear of being matched….it doesn’t matter. Until that baby is in your arms my time for you hasn’t come. My answer is still ‘not yet because I have other things for you to do.’”

And so we wait, and work, and pray, and live because much like the last 37 days and maybe like the few hundred days ahead, the Lord is saying “not yet.”

 

Adoption Update #2

IMG_3785We are so encouraged and grateful by the outpouring of support and love the last two weeks. What a blessing to have people from all over the country coming on this journey with us. And to be so close to our goal already?!! We are in awe of those who have heeded the call to help us either in prayer or financially! We don’t take it for granted and we are so thankful that you have chosen to follow the Lord’s call to help! Thank you!!  For update #2 I thought I would clue you in to where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going in this adoption journey.

Where we have been: The best way to describe where we have been is a timeline of events over the last 5 months. It has been lots of paperwork, lots of prayer, lots of talking and lots of learning.

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The day we submitted our formal application!

  • Nov. 3rd – Preliminary Application Submitted
  • Nov. 30th – Personal Statement of Faith Submitted
  • Dec 3rd – Adoption Info Meeting
  • January 28th – Formal Application Submitted
  • March 1st – Application Approved!!
  • March 4th-5th – HOPE Conference Training, Little Rock, AR
  • March 8th – First Home Study Interview
  • March 12th – Baby Basics Training, Rogers, AR
  • March 16th – Second Home Study Interview
  • March 22nd – Third Home Study Interview

Where are we now: We are waiting. We don’t know how long we will be waiting all we know is that we have NO control and the Lord has ALL control. After meeting with our social worker in March 22nd we were told that we would become an official waiting family in the beginning of April (this week or next). Until then, we are waiting for our profile books to be delivered to our home and then promptly dropped off at the Bethany office.

After we are an official waiting family we are just that…a waiting family. There are about 20 waiting families right now in Arkansas, which generally is a good thing because it means our wait may not be very long. When we went to the initial info meeting back in December we were told that it is highly likely that we will have a placement sometime this year. They also said that a placement could happen as soon as we become a waiting family. So to put that clearly…we could have a baby next week…next month…this summer…this fall…next winter…who knows??? The Lord knows!!

We are trusting the Lord in our waiting…and probably buying a car seat soon…just in case 😉

 

 

Adoption Update #1

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Grateful, humbled, and so excited by how God works!  Over half way to our goal already!! We are blown away by the generosity of our community! We have seen over and over in our adoption journey so far that when God says go…He provides the means in ways that take us by surprise. Thank you to those who have supported us financially as well as those who have added our family to your prayer list!

For update #1, I figured I would tell you why we chose to adopt through Bethany Christian Services.

  1. Bethany has the mother’s best interest in mind. We really liked that they take the time to do birth parent counseling so the expectant mother is able to make the best and most informed decision for the child. We follow the mother’s lead on their decision to place or not, hospital visitation, and level of openness in the adoption. The expectant mother is respect as a human being who has a huge decision to make that may involve both loss and sacrifice. The expectant mom has a very important role in the adoption process, thus the reason we pray so hard for her!
  2. The matching process appears to be transparent. Bethany helps match compatible parties when it comes to adoptive family preferences and what the birth mother wants for her child. We were required to fill out a preferences document (not an easy thing to do) that pretty much had us say yes, no, or will consider to a list of circumstances or conditions that the child may be biologically affected by. When an expectant mother is ready to chose an adoptive family for her baby, we will be notified if our preferences match up to the circumstances and we will have the ability to chose to have our profile book looked at by the expectant mother. It seems straightforward and yet leaves a lot of area for God to work!
  3. When the expectant mother choses to work with Bethany regarding her crisis pregnancy she knows from the beginning that the home her child may be placed in is one with Biblical values that plans on raising the child within a community of believers and according to Godly principals.

We are excited to see how God will continue to work as we travel this adoption journey that may continue for just another month…or maybe for the whole year ahead as we wait on the Lord.

We’re Adopting!!

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A word from Me:

It’s the putter patter of little feet, sweet smiles and contagious giggles. It’s the play times and bath times and bedtime stories. It’s the dirty diapers, the sleepless nights and the cries from a little someone who needs us. That little someone needs us, just like we need him/her. That little someone needs our love, needs our arms, needs our heartbeat…needs US! And us, we need that little someone. We need his/her love, giggles, joy, and tears.

It was over five years ago that adoption entered our conversation as a way to grow our family. We had planned on it from the beginning but knew that the Lord would need to provide us with direction and a timeline. After knowing, loving, growing attached to, praying, and then grieving hard for our daughter Norah Maye, we were left with many lessons learned but possibly among the most important lessons was that God has called us to be parents. He has placed that desire so deeply within us that we couldn’t ignore it.

And so the idea of adoption joined our conversation once again and we could not be more ecstatic about pursuing not only our call to be parents but also our call as Christ Followers to care for orphans.

A word from Jonathan:

I think Meghan’s words capture our feelings about adoption very well. We are ready to be parents, feel led to pursue adoption and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for us.

One of the biggest challenges for me in this process has been the financial aspect of adoption. The costs are pretty sobering and can quickly turn the sentimentality of adoption into an act of faith no matter what your financial situation. The Lord has given me peace about it but I wanted to break the costs down for everyone for three reasons:

  1. I’m a nerd, enjoy numbers and a big part of my current job is to create investment models for my organization’s large projects. Adoption is about as big of a project as Meghan and I have ever had so I thought it made sense to look at it through this lens.
  2. I want to help give your donation a context. In talking to people about adoption the most consistent question is about the costs to adopt. I will break it down for you. Meghan and I value transparency and we want you to have all the information we can give you so that you can choose whether to help us or use your resources to help someone else.
  3. I want to answer the normally unspoken questions about finances in adoption, the questions we’re too polite to ask but are all thinking: Where are Meghan and I financially? What have we done to meet this financial challenge? How much are we relying on donations to make this adoption happen?

Adoption as an Investment

A great investment is one where you spend as little as you can to make as much as you can. From this, strictly financial perspective, adoption is a terrible investment. When you adopt you are investing a large amount of cash to “purchase” something that you know will continue to create additional costs for the rest of your life.

The fact that so many of us are willing to adopt anyway tells us that the non-financial or soft benefits of adoption outweigh the financial considerations. In business, this kind of decision is extremely rare and is only made when there are issues of principle at stake. In essence, only the most intrinsically valuable business propositions are ones that have no financial value and yet enable the business to remain true to its core principles.

Adoption is intrinsically valuable and uniquely reinforces the beliefs Meghan and I cherish the most:

  • Those of us who know Christ as our Savior are all adopted members of God’s family.
  • The cost of our adoption, Christ’s death on the cross, far surpasses our inherent value but ultimately reveals to all of us the principles most cherished by God: humility, love for God, love for each other, and redemption.

Adoption Costs

This section is going to list, then explain the general costs of adoption and list the costs of several possible scenarios. We are working with Bethany Christian Services who specialize in helping mothers in “crisis” pregnancy situations find homes for their children. I mention this only to say that it’s important to find an agency that treats you and the mother of your child in a manner that is consistent with your beliefs. There is a lot of room in these situations for mothers to be pressured or manipulated into making decisions that they are not really ready to make. Working with an established agency can mitigate this risk.

Adoption Fees

As you can see, no matter what the scenario, the financial impact is huge. The minimum cost to us would be $33,250 with the “worst case” scenario coming in around $50,750. That’s a really difficult spread to plan for which leads us to the last question.

Where are we financially

Meghan has added clients and home studies to help us save and we’ve put as much as we can from my check toward our adoption fund as well. We will be taking a short vacation the week after next before we become a listed family at the beginning of April.

The bottom line is that the Lord has blessed Meghan and I financially. We know there are many folks out there trying to adopt who are starting with less than we are and we have not lost sight of that. The simple truth is that we have the means to meet many of the costs outlined above but in any scenario (as you can tell), the financial impact will be significant.

What do we need from you?

  1. Consider giving financially. Consider where we are financially while keeping in mind others in your life who may be in need of financial support. We simply ask that you pray about where you and the Lord believe your resources should go. We know He is able to provide all that we need in any scenario or contingency. We know that He is the ultimate source of any blessings we have today and that if they were gone tomorrow He would still be faithful. We will rejoice if you feel led to support us and we will rejoice if the Lord leads you to support someone else.  If you feel compelled to give click HERE!
  2. Pray for our baby and his/her mom. It may be that our baby is already growing in his/her mother’s womb. Pray for a healthy pregnancy, a healthy mother and that she receives the physical and emotional care she needs during this pregnancy. We plan on having an open or partially open adoption which means that she will likely be an extended part of our family in the future. Pray for our relationship with her as well.
  3. Pray for patience. Waiting is going to be the most difficult part of this for Meghan especially. Keep this in mind when you pray for us.

What can you expect from us?

  1. Anyone who donates will have a bunting flag with your name on it hung around the border of our baby’s room. We do not take your contributions lightly and we want to have a constant reminder of the people the Lord has brought alongside us through this journey.
  2. Updates. We will keep this site updated along with our YouCaring site. Please reach out to us if you have questions.

If you’ve read all of this, THANK YOU and we look forward to walking this path together!

Jonathan and Meghan

To My Norah on the week of Thanksgiving

Precious Norah,

Happy Thanksgiving Sweet One! I’ve been thinking about you so much lately. If you were still here and growing you would surely be making me uncomfortable as I would be 30 weeks pregnant. Oh how I wish I was experiencing that discomfort! I see women due with babies at the same time you were to arrive and I look at them with envy and wonder how it would feel when you kick or get the hiccups. I won’t know…but I have something those moms don’t have. I have complete assurance that my baby gets to spend eternity with Jesus. They can only pray for that right now. I’m grateful for that assurance.IMG_3118
We are in Virginia for Thanksgiving. It was hard leaving Arkansas. I felt like I was leaving you behind. It is the first family event/holiday that I really feel like I am missing part of my family. I really wonder what life would be like if you were still here and healthy. We probably wouldn’t be in VA because travel would be kinda risky at this point. I would gladly chose time with you over a trip to VA. Even though family time is such a blessing.
We went to the beach today…the ocean always makes me feel so small. I thought of you and wrote your name in the sand as I imagined what your view of that ocean may be…your view from Jesus’ lap. Breathtaking I am sure!
I’m thankful for you Sweet Norah. The thought of being thankful is different for me this year. Losing you just a little over two months ago it seems like it would be hard to be thankful but God has made me thankful in a new way. I’m thankful for your life, the experience of carrying you and needing to depend on God in a way I hadn’t before. I’m thankful for your little life and the impact it had on Jonathan and I, for the lessons I have learned this year about the IMG_3095miracle of life. I am thankful for healing, both yours and mine. He healed you perfectly and I have and still am experiencing His perfect healing from the grief that left me raw and vulnerable. He is our healer and I like the thought that we have both experienced it.
Norah Maye you are such a blessing to me and it is because of the God who gave you your perfect life that I can be thankful this year.
Sweet One, you will be with me this Thanksgiving, if only in my heart!

Love for always and always,
Your Mommy

Even When it Hurts….

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.  The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. – Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though life is hard, though I weep with heartbreak several times a day, though Norah left us what we think is much too soon, though my heart hurts all the time,  though life doesn’t look like the way we expected it too,  though the future is difficult to face, I will praise the One who gives strength to my weary soul, who give grace for my today and peace incomprehensible for my heart.  I will exult the One who holds my dear daughter.  I will seek to draw close to the One who my daughter is the closest to.   I will rejoice my God who holds me through my trial!

And I will turn this song up loud and on repeat…all day long!

Things I’ve Learned About Grief

It has been two weeks since I held my little sleeping beauty. Two weeks since I saw her beautiful little body and kissed her sweet head.  Oh how I miss her!
It has been two weeks since I officially started the journey of grief, although it actually started about two months ago when we got the news about her holoprosencephaly.  During this time I have learned some things about grief that I never really knew before.  I am a therapist by trade, so I know what the textbooks say about grief, but actually experiencing this kind of grief personally is quite different.  Here are some things I have learned…
  • Being a therapist did not/does not exempt me from feeling all stages of grief over and over again.  I know the stages, I analyzed the stages, I examined how I was/am experiencing them.
  • Being a Christian did not/does not exempt me from experiencing all the stages of grief.  I think people think that as Christians we need to “get over it” quicker.  We need to “get back to normal.”  We can’t show our weaknesses.  Something about complete brokenness and vulnerability makes Christians uncomfortable (which is a topic for another day).  But that brokenness is exactly what grief is…and that is ok.
  • Some people have more grace than others for the healing process.  Some people tell you to take all the time you need and you can tell they mean it.  Others stress the importance of healing in a way that pressures those grieving.  There is a healthy balance I think…I’m hoping that I am finding that.
  • Just because you don’t cry as much in one environment doesn’t mean that grief is over and you can go about life “as normal.”  I stayed home last week and felt like I may have “conquered” my home life, besides triggers that can’t be avoided.  But going to church and back to work this week was a completely different animal.
  • Netflix is a great way to zone out and just rest from reality.
  • Something about mornings is really really hard.  Before I even crack my eyes open I have to pray because I know that when they do open my reality is still really hard to face.
  • Productivity and motivation are really hard, especially the first week or so after and it only gets gradually better from there. And really being able to focus was virtually impossible for a while, and is still something I struggle with minute by minute.
  • Losing a baby is different than losing another family member because pregnancy hormones make grief worse and more confusing.
  • Having people to cry and laugh with is wonderful.  And having people who understand that just because I am laughing doesn’t mean my grief is over is even better!
  • I spent a lot of time alone last week since Jonathan went back to work and I survived just fine but I did/do much better when I am around Jonathan.
  • Puppy therapy is a real thing, especially when empty arms are an issue and you have a puppy who likes cuddles.
  • God gives strength to the weak.
  • He is totally ok with crying and in fact catches every tear.
  • God is good!  Circumstances are hard and sorrow fills my heart…but so does God and one of these days I am confident that God will replace that deep sorrow with something a little more joyful, all the while taking care of my sweet baby.

Norah Maye Sireci

This is just an update on our baby GIRL!  Now 16 weeks along, I’m feeling fine, besides the obvious anxieties about the future.  But it has been a good week!  We got some news on Monday and now that family knows…the public can know too!  Our little Wiggles is a little girl and it is so much harder to avoid attachment when you know the gender and we can call her by a name other than Wiggles.  Our little Norah Maye…oh how you have changed our lives!

Below is an update on what we learned this week and some ways that you can join us in prayer.

  • We got genetic blood test results back yesterday.  The test came back
    NEGATIVE!  We were happy to hear that Norah Maye appears to have no genetic issues! We know there is still a chance that this could be a false negative…but we are hopeful that it was correct.  So what does this mean? It means that she just has Holoprosencephaly (HPE) which is still a fatal diagnosis, but not quite as severe as if there was genetic problems.
  • We have a general OB appointment with my doctor on September 9th at
    8:45 am.  We know at each of these appointments there is a chance that
    Norah will no longer have a heartbeat.  So pray for emotional preparation for whatever God’s will is.  If there is a heartbeat there is a possibility that more formal birth plans will begin to be made.  Pray for wisdom for us and for the team that will create this plan with us.
  • We have an appointment with the at risk pregnancy doctor on September 14th at 7:30 am. This is a very big and long appointment (about 2 hours)  We will have a full body ultrasound scan of the baby to check for other defects and facial abnormalities, a consultation with the doctor, and an amniocentesis.  This is just a scary appointment for me.  Pray for peace, and that we would see perfection in our child the way the Lord does.  I selfishly just want our baby to have two eyes…so I am praying specifically for that as babies with HPE sometimes do not.
  • I think at this point…with the genetic test coming back negative…it is
    still absolutely appropriate to pray for a miracle and full development of
    the brain to be seen on the 14th.

We are so grateful for the love, support, and prayers on the journey thus far!  THANK YOU! It isn’t easy…at all!  But we serve a great God who is laying the path for us!

Not Just a Distraction…

The house has been quiet this week…sooooo quiet.  The last three weeks we have been completely blessed by our family.  On D-day my parents just happened to be coming down for two weeks with us.  And then after they left, my mother-in-law came to spend a week with us.  And when she flew home, Grandma and Grandpa Lukaschek joined us for a weekend.  What a blessing!

Parents in town!

Parents in town!

Let me just tell you, those first weeks were hard, but the presence of family really helped to soften the blow of the news!  We had people to process with, to talk through plans and worries and fears, to cry with.  We had people to distract us at times from the reality of our life. But more than that, we had people to be joyful with, to create good memories with, to smile through the tears with, to laugh with.

When we had told our family about Wiggles we often got the question, “How can we help?”  And almost without hesitation I said, “You can come hang out with us.”

Mother-in-law in town!

Mother-in-law in town!

And when I said this, it wasn’t just because I want/ed company, it was because I want people to experience life with Wiggles.  I want Wiggles to be around our friends and family.  I want pictures with family…with Wiggles.  And I want these months, which could so easily be filled with sorrow and grief to also be full of joy, good memories, laughter, family, community, and fellowship.  I want Wiggles to know…as much as possible…just how loved he/she is.

Grandparents in town!

Grandparents in town!

I so wish we could travel to others…to give Wiggles some awesome experiences away from home.  But we just can’t.  The risk of leaving home and miscarriage or pre-term labor happening is just to high. So we will stay put and host company…We already have a few more visitors and fun events on the calendar!

So, yes, the house has been quiet this week. And yes, it has been hard at times.  But it has also been refreshing.  I have started listening to worship music again, it brought me to tears at first but has gotten so much easier and necessary.  I have taken quiet walks with just me, Langlee, and Wiggles.  I have prayed more. I have given great thought to how to attach to Wiggles in a way that is meaningful, which has given me renewed perspective on this pregnancy experience.  I had a great talk with a great friend that was so good for my soul.  I have worked.  I have snuggled with my husband and I am anxiously anticipating a Friday date night!  …All this and it is only Wednesday!

God is good…and I am thankful for days when I can really see and feel how true that is!