Runaway Mom | Our Adoption

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There comes a time when you have to choose between turning a page and closing a book.

This is the last chapter of a book we have decided to close.

Sitting in front of this empty page, not knowing where to start. The white computer screen blinding me. I previously had so much to say. I was so convinced of God’s plan for our life that I had to share it with everyone who patiently offered to listen or curiously followed my blog. That’s right, I had dedicated an entire blog to this topic I couldn’t stop talking about. For the past two years, Paul and I had diligently been saving and sowing into what we faithfully believed was our calling. We had rallied friends and family to support our cause.

Full of excitement and anticipation, Paul and I were preparing to take our family to the next level.

But then everything changed.

Excitement was replaced with doubt. Anticipation was pushed aside by fear. The peace and certainty I once felt, suddenly began to fade.

From knowing that we were destined to grow our family through adoption, I went to wondering if I was going to be strong enough to raise another child. While I (most of the time) don’t doubt that I am a good mother to Emma, I am also fully aware of how weak and fragile I am. Would another child really be a blessing to our family? Was the dream of a family of four truly ours? Or were Paul and I dreaming someone else’s dream?

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One day, I was on the phone with my best friend, I was surprised to hear myself say it out loud: “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think we should go through with our adoption.” My friend just waited for me to continue. There it was, I had put my fears into words. The more I opened up, the clearer I saw it. Yet, I didn’t want to admit it. I had publicly declared that we were on God’s mission to care for a fatherless child. What was I suddenly thinking?

I finally let Paul in and told him how I felt. His response? Relief. He also had begun to grow doubts about the dream to have another child. We started talking about our life as it is now, what our values are as a family, we questioned our purpose, our goals. No matter how much we argued that we had heard God clearly lead us towards adoption, we couldn’t help but feel relief about the idea of being “just” a family of three.

So where does that leave us with God? Non-believers and believers alike probably wonder how we could have claimed that the plan to adopt was our God-given purpose and then suddenly turn the other way and walk away from our Father’s directive for us. Does this mean we no longer believed? Or that we never heard God in the first place?

The answer: We have no idea. All we know is that God has opened our heart for adoption. That won’t change. We will always advocate for adoption. The issue was never adoption versus pregnancy. The question we were asking ourselves was about bringing another child into our family.

Another wise friend of mine said to me – after sharing with her about our decision to stop the adoption – our desire to adopt may be fulfilled in a different way. It doesn’t have to be in the traditional sense of adopting a child into our family. There are different ways of adopting, or caring for the fatherless. We can still live a life that matters and make a difference.

Since we began the adoption process a lot has changed for us: Our family needed us. Our existing family – stateside and across the Atlantic – needs Paul and I to be available, to support and care for them. Emotionally, physically and financially.

All of this had been considered before. We didn’t enter this adoption process lightly. Besides, our social worker grilled us on all these topics. Yet, it never occurred to us that maybe we had already run out of capacity. That another child would push us over the edge. We are seeing our friends growing their families, raising multiple children. We see their struggles, their exhaustion. Of course, we also see the fun, the blessing, the love between siblings, and the feeling of completion as a family. But what if we wouldn’t make it to that point where life with two kids got easier? What if Paul and I would be crushed in the process?

Maybe God’s plan for us wasn’t the adoption itself, maybe He wanted to reveal something else to us?

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Our marriage always needed a bit more care, a bit more attention, a bit more work. With Emma I already had to split my attention, my time, my love. I felt like I couldn’t take more of that away from my husband and give it to a new baby. Paul and I have had some rough times together. I owe him more of me. Not less. I owe myself more of me.

In all of my married life I have barely sacrificed anything truly valuable to me for my husband. Sure, I left my family and home country behind to stay with him to build a life with him in the USA. But that wasn’t just for him. I wanted that for myself.

The decision to not have another child is my sacrifice. For the first time, I put my wish to be a mother again aside and put my marriage first. Yet, as much as I try to see the good in our decision, I feel like a runaway mom. I got cold feet. I got scared. I feel shame and guilt.

Once we had decided to stop our adoption, count the money spent on education, homestudy and agency fees as loss and pick up the pieces, I shifted straight into task mode. So much to do, so many friends and family to inform. More importantly, we had to refund all of the donations we’ve had received and reconcile our tithes. There was no more need to keep Emma’s baby clothes and gear. I wanted to close the chapter completely. And I wanted to do it quickly so I could move on.

Paul, on the other hand, needed time. He put the brakes on. Asked to mourn. Mourn the loss of a dream, the loss of the baby that we thought was supposed to be ours. Looking back, I am glad Paul forced me to hold still for a while.

When I see new babies, I can’t help but feel sadness. Did I bail? Did we make a decision out of fear instead of faith? Am I really that weak?

But once I managed to tell my emotions to stop trying to guide my decisions, I feel peace. I know we’ve made the right decision.That doesn’t mean I don’t get sad or tear up when I sort through Emma’s baby clothes. Sometimes making the tough choice and the right choice are the same.

Do we still believe that God called us to pursue adoption? Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that He made me aware of my limits. I know that He gave me a heart for adoption. I know that He led Paul and I to take a close look at ourselves and our marriage. We have learned a lot in the process.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~Isaiah 55:8-9

During our journey, we have seen friends disengage, and we have seen friends opening their hearts, pouring their time, love, prayer and finances over us. A few very close friends had respectfully raised concerns in the beginning when we shared about our adoption decision. They cautioned us to put our marriage first, they carefully pointed out that we may need to focus more on each other than another baby. The risked our friendship by telling us something we certainly didn’t want to hear.

Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kiss from an enemy. ~Proverbs 27:6

Nonetheless, those friends were always in our corner as we embarked on the adoption journey. They are the same friends who encourage us today.

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Be Still, And Know That I Am God | A Long Overdue Adoption Update

“Be still, and know that I am God.” ~Psalm 46:10

Serenity found in Maui, HI.

Psalm 46:10 encourages us to reflect on what God can do in the face of what we are unable to do. Sounds pretty much like the headline of our adoption story which, at this time, is not necessarily a story yet. It’s more like a draft or outline.

Most of the times, our desire to adopt seems so unrealistic, so unreachable, so impossible. Last year, we thought, we’d be in a great position to get started with the adoption process: Attend the workshops and online classes, read the obligatory materials, submit our application and maybe even complete our homestudy. You might have followed my Adoption Awareness Blog Project or joined our excitement when we announced that We Are Expecting Again. Then, Thrasher Home went awfully quiet all of last year, very few posts, no word about our adoption. Dear friends, I owe you an update:

A call to the adoption agency of our choice in January of last year made us slow down, rethink our approach and finally turn to God for advice. We were told by a very sweet agency worker that it may not be a wise decision to start the process considering the little funds we had available to us. It may not work in our favor if we had to interrupt the process while trying to save or raise more money to move on to the next step. With only one income and a tight monthly expense budget, we were only making small progress towards our adoption savings goal of $29,000. When we called the agency, we had merely $4,000 in our savings account. (Just reading these numbers again makes me nauseous.)

While I was disappointed and sad, Paul received a word from God that Sunday in church. God told him that we need to be still and trust His timing. Certainly not a mind-blowing revelation but as usual God’s timing was perfect: Paul’s regained confidence, helped me understand that we were trying too hard to force our own agenda. We were desperately trying to control the situation.

Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him. ~Psalm 37:7 (GWT)

There it was.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” […] ~ 2 Corinthians 2:9

Yes, more of that, please.

Family peace.

The most important thing Paul reminded me off is that this adoption will happen. We will add to our family through adoption. Only God knows when. In the meantime, we must not be discouraged but be faithful. And surrender.

The American evangelist D.L. Moody once said that “If you partner with God, make your plans big!”. Our plans are big indeed…

Do you have any big plans that require someone like the Almighty as a partner? How did you surrender? Did you already reach the end? Do share. We appreciate any words of encouragement, prayers and stories.
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iFamily :: Electronics In Today’s Homes

We may as well call each other iDad and iMom…Mr. Thrasher and I share seven screens in our home. That may not be a lot for a home in the Bay Area, the epicenter of tech startups and Apple HQ. On occasion, four of those screens are in use at the same time: A movie or TV show is showing on the TV screen while Mr. Thrasher is quickly fixing a bug (that’s code for he’s software engineering something) and I was just reminded by something someone said on TV to look something up. At some point, both of us receive at least one text or alert which brings our cellphone screens to life. Only the iPad is peacefully resting in its sleeve on the bookshelf.

Do I really want to let my toddler play with a $600 device? Source: Thinkgeek.com

Quoting an article in the NY Times “technology has become an alienating force in the contemporary home”. Unfortunately, I agree. All too often, I am spending my nights with my husband but not together, while both of us are lost in our own virtual worlds. The other night, we started a game of Words With Friends while we were lying next to each other in bed. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Certainly not romance.

That’s when we realized we had to make a change. A while ago, I invented ‘opening hours’ to limit the time I spent online and thus allow me to focus more on offline quality time with friends and family. I’m happy to report that my daughter definitely benefited from my newly found self-discipline to control the use of electronics. I never neglected my baby because I had an important email to write or text to send. But now I’m also interacting more with her while she’s eating instead of texting or reading her a book in the morning instead of checking emails or having a pillow fight in bed instead of logging into Skype to see if my family in Germany is online.

Back to iDad and iMom and bringing sexy romance marriage time back. If you haven’t noticed, I need rules and guidelines and going cold turkey to deal with negative habits. Might be the German in me. So I started by deleting all my social media apps from my phone (read here why I took a hiatus from Facebook a while ago), I’m also turning my phone off on most nights and am charging it in the living room instead of next to my bed, on road trips we’re using our phones only for navigation purposes, to find a kid-/dog-friendly restaurant on Yelp or to make phone calls. By the way, car trips are excellent opportunities to connect with your spouse. And don’t forget to ‘talk’ with your toddler on the backseat.

The icing on the iCake, however is the No-Screen Sundays at Thrasher Home: On Sundays we refrain from logging into our computers, playing games on our phones or turning on the TV. Only exception: If we have truly important things to take care of that can’t wait. Speaking of important…my iBaby just woke up from her morning nap. Which means my computer goes into Sleep mode.

How iFamily are you? Do you let your toddler play with your electronics?

Conditioner, Cut And Counseling

This blog post is dedicated to the wonderful hair dressers and their influence in our lives. In my opinion, finding the perfect hair dresser is harder than choosing your OB-Gyn. Mr. Thrasher, for instance – no, he did not have to choose an OB-Gyn – had been with his hair dresser for longer than we’ve been married. I’d lie if I said I wasn’t a bit jealous of their relationship.

Finding a good hair stylist who’s great with cuts and color is probably one of the biggest challenges a modern city girl faces. But once you found her/him, you become One and go together through bangs, layers, brunette, blonde, short and long.

Besides trusting your hair dresser with your very specific requests for blonde highlights as well as your brutal transformation from California Beach Blonde (Double Income, No Kids) to Budget Brunette (Single Income With Baby), you eventually start confiding in her during those frequent hair salon visits. You’ve got time to kill (lots of time if you’re doing color), and instead of giving into gossipping by reading People magazine, you converse with the person massaging your soul scalp.

Soon enough, you’ll find yourself chatting about your marriage, your baby, work, family, your dreams and fears, travel plans and home decor. Just to make sure you’re still at a salon and not your shrink’s office, you look around. You realize that all the other customers are also lost in deep conversation with the (wo)man treating their hair. Between conditioner and cut, your amazing hair dresser advises you on the best beaches for kids in Hawaii, tricks for successful puppy training, and gift ideas for your spouse. The blow dry comes with a recommendation for a magic diaper rash treatment (corn starch, anyone?) and while they swipe your credit card, you’ll get the scoop on the newest restaurant in town.

Hair dressers are angels in disguise. If you found one, treat her/him with respect, tip her/him well and recommend her/him to your friends. Not too often, though. You don’t want your angel to be too busy to counsel you cut your hair.

Emily, Vanessa and Lisa, this post is for you. You make us look good and this world a better place.

Protected: Project 365 :: No. 18

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Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012.

The year 2011 at Thrasher Home in words and pictures:

A very eventful 2011 for the Thrashers

January

  • The year couldn’t have begun with a bigger blessing: We brought our precious daughter Emma home from the hospital. Throughout the year, we continued to be amazed by the most adorable addition to the Thrasher family. We had many first’s like smiling, rolling over, first domestic flight, first cross-Atlantic flight, first road trip, first ferry ride, first time dipping toes into the ocean, sleeping through the night, swimming, crawling, cruising, eating solids, teeth, walking, climbing, self-feeding, and so much more.

February

  • As we welcomed more babies to our family, we had to say goodbye to our cousin Michael who left this world way too soon due to a tragic accident. Inspired by Michael who saved eleven lives with his healthy organs, I signed up to be an organ donor. (I encourage you to register here.)

April

  • During our adventurous trip to Germany, we introduced a three-months old Emma to her great-grandmother, astonished by the age difference of a hundred years. And I reunited with my cousin whom I haven’t seen in over 20 years.
  • The start-up Mr. Thrasher had been working for got bought by a media company. Paul now works for said fast-growing company and is (thankfully) still loving the challenges his job brings every day.

May

  • Mr. Thrasher and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. I love you, Mr. Thrasher!
  • We celebrated my first (official) Mother’s Day together with my mother-in-law.
  • Despite a loving husband, a wonderful baby daughter, good health and a cozy home, I hit rock bottom and can’t even start to describe how depressed and angry I was with myself, God, the world and everyone in it.

June

  • Emma honored her Papa with an adventurous outing with friends for his first Father’s Day and he took us to the state capital for the day.

July

  • The Thrashers headed to SoCal for Emma’s half-year birthday and Fourth of July celebrations with Paul’s family. It was so adorable to see Emma play with our cousin’s kiddos.
  • For our wedding anniversary, Paul gave me (us) a weekend stay at a nice bed & breakfast as a gift. It was our first short overnight trip with Emma and Griffin. Let’s just say it was far from being a romantic getaway.

August

  • We celebrated Emma’s dedication with friends, family and her godparents Allyn and Lori. Unfortunately, her godparents Jen and Joe couldn’t join us but we knew they were there in spirit.

September

  • I celebrated my sixth San Franniversary.
  • We left the church where we got saved, baptized and married to join a new church. It felt a bit like a break-up but as we’re getting more involved in our new church community, we feel more and more at home there.

October

  • My amazing mother finally retired and we celebrated her career and achievements as a passionate pharmacist with a ‘Retirement Care Package’. Hand packed by her granddaughter. Mama, you truly deserve to sit back and enjoy life to the fullest with a loving husband by your side! I am very proud of everything you have accomplished in your career – especially during those years where you raised my sister and I as a single mom while slaving in your own pharmacy and paying for our way-too-expensive boarding school education.
  • Mr. Thrasher and I made an important decision about adding another baby to the family. Read all the details about our Adoption Decision here.
  • Paul went on his first official business trip to NYC and Emma and I were all by ourselves for a whole week!
  • Emma experiences her first Halloween. Dressed up as a cow. Too cute! She also hosted a fun baby Halloween party. She just loves to entertain. Just like her Mama.

November

  • Several adoptive parents and bloggers from all over the U.S. and Canada joined me on Thrasher Home for the Adoption Awareness Blog Project, an effort to raise awareness for the need of forever families for millions of children all over the world.
  • For Thanksgiving, we are travelling to SoCal to be with the rest of the family. Emma had her first Thanksgiving turkey and loved every bite!
  • After weathering a hefty storm, our marriage is now stronger and sexier than ever. Thanks to Shauna, author of Living It Up and wife of our awesome pastor at Epic Church, for introducing me to The Love Dare. That book and without a doubt God’s unfailing love saved our relationship.

December

  • Emma’s first Christmas or Christnachten is a huge deal for me her. I’m not surprised that she actually figured out how to unwrap gifts and loved tearing all the paper and ribbon apart.
  • Emma turns 1. We survived the first year in the parenthood are graduating to toddlerhood.
  • We successfully maneuvered through a year of me being a stay-at-home mom – financially and emotionally a big adjustment.
  • Another year has gone by where my own father still refuses to connect with me and has shown no interest in meeting his granddaughter. Even Emma’s beautiful birth announcement couldn’t warm his heart.
The Thrashers are ready for 2012. God is good and this year is going to be amazing. What was your most memorable adventure in 2011?

Project 365 :: No. 16

I love Mr. Thrasher because he encourages me to look for the good in everybody.

Project 365 :: No. 15

I love Mr. Thrasher because I can be my worst self and still he loves me back.

Project 365 :: No. 14

I love Mr. Thrasher because he prays with me.

Project 365 :: No.13

I love Mr. Thrasher because he balances me out.