The Empty Nursery

When beginning the adoption process, one of the things I was most fearful of was the home study, afraid that no matter how great we thought we were, the social worker wouldn’t approve us. The fate of our parenthood  rested solely in the hands of a stranger, and that idea fanned the flames of my insecurities.

Being clueless about home studies, insecure, and a perfectionist, I needed to know what to expect. So I dedicated an entire “secret board” on Pinterest to adoption and tips for the home study. I looked for adoptive parent message boards and forums. I obsessively read everything I could get my hands on.
On one message board, a certain post caught my eye. A woman asked the question, “Should I have the baby’s room set up before the home study or not?
The majority of people answered that it wasn’t necessary to have a fully furnished nursery. The social worker only wants to see that you have adequate and appropriate space for the child. Then some people answered that they would never have a nursery ready for fear of seeming too desperate. Still others said that it would be far too painful to have their nursery complete and sitting empty. The comments that followed were the stories of so many childless women, sharing – some for the first time- their heartache and their sorrow, agreeing that there is nothing so painful as an empty nursery.

As I sat staring at my computer screen, I couldn’t help but feel as though I had just stared straight into the dark and bleeding heart of so many women struggling with infertility. We are afraid to seem too desperate for a child, afraid to face another day with empty arms, afraid that motherhood is a dream that will never come true. We are just… afraid.

David and I – mostly I – decided to go ahead and prep for baby as much as we can, because we want to be prepared when the day comes. So I made a baby registry on Amazon, and we have slowly been purchasing items for our nursery. We have all of the essentials – a crib, changing table, dresser, and a glider I got on Facebook marketplace for $50!
And when I sit in the nursery, as I so often do, I am not filled with sadness nor stricken by grief. Instead, my heart quickens with excitement and anticipation for what I know is coming.
I sit in the floor and I pray. I sit in the corner and imagine all of the memories we will make in that room. Our empty crib is not a bleeding heart for me, but I can see how it can be for so many others.

When I think of all of the women who try for years in vain to get pregnant, my heart breaks for them. I know many of them personally. Too many. Good, faithful Christian women whose deepest desire is to become a mother.

It seems so wrong. It seems so unfair. And no matter how loudly we cry out, God does not answer us with a pregnancy. We read the story of Hannah in the Bible. We read how she cried out to God and was given a child in return, and we are strengthened. We read of Abraham’s wife Sarah who gave birth at an age that the vast majority of us will never live to see. We read these miracles and we wonder, why not me? If only I pray hard enough. If only I do everything my doctor suggests.
If only, if only

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have an answer at all. I asked God those questions too, especially right after David and I were married. People would innocently comment that babies were next for us, and when I shared about our inability to have children people would innocently say, “You never know. It could happen.” I could only smile and agree. Yes, yes it could.

And so my silent struggle began.
I knew in my heart that God was calling me to adoption. I had known it for years. But every month, I would wait with eager anticipation. And if I was a few days late, my heart would drop into my stomach and my imagination would run wild.
One time, I was over 30 days late, and though I was told at the age of 17 that I was close to menopause, and my period has never been regular, I stood on the “family planning” aisle at the pharmacy staring at pregnancy tests for 10 minutes before finally walking away empty handed.
After 60 days, I did go back and buy a test. You see, I had to know. And the next morning I experienced for the first time what so many women have experienced before me: The heartbreaking disappointment of a negative pregnancy test.

This same scenario has happened two more times in the 2 1/2 years David and I have been married. Each time, I have stared into the bathroom mirror, telling myself over and over that it would be negative, all the while hoping that it wasn’t.
But it was.

And that’s okay, because I am completely dedicated and in love with my call to adoption. God has been sowing the seed of adoption into my heart since I was 17 years old. And what my womb lacks in fertility, the soil of my heart more than makes up for. Jesus has nurtured those seeds planted so that I would be ready to embrace with joy the path set before me. I thank God for preparing me for this journey from a young age so that now I am able to face it with a heart that is whole and is held in Jesus’ hands.

But why are there so many good Christian couples who struggle to conceive or carry to term? I have pondered this for years, and my take-away is probably going to step on some toes. I do not want to offend anyone, I simply wish to share my thoughts.
James 1 tells us that “Religion our Father accepts as pure and faultless is to look after widows and orphans in their distress…”.
There are so many children in need of a home, in need of a family. But the majority of God’s people have turned a blind eye. And those who are unable to conceive often seek treatment and medical interventions of all kinds, exhausting resources and every other option, only turning to adoption as a last resort.

Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t judge couples who choose this route. Quite the opposite. Some of the most godly couples I know have sought medical intervention for infertility. Some of the most precious children I know were born as a result. I rejoice with them when pregnancy is achieved. I grieve with them when it is not.

But what if one of the reasons there are so many Christians struggling through this same trial is that we have failed to carry out his command? God is trying to wake us up from our slumber, from our pursuit of the American dream. God is trying to make us break out of this box of conventional thinking. He is trying to show us the sad reality that we have failed the poor and the broken, the orphan and the widow, and we have left them to be the responsibility of our government.

Now, I don’t believe that the loving God I serve made me unable to bear children. No, the sinful, broken world in which I live brought about my disease. I do believe that my loving God works all things to the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). He allows circumstances in our lives that either make or break us.  My loving, all knowing, all powerful God uses the good and especially the bad to further His kingdom.

So what if we, instead of seeking to further our own bloodlines, chose to further the kingdom God? What if we stepped up and took in the orphan? What if we opened our hearts and our homes to children we did not bear? What if we made ourselves available to the kids who need mentors, mothers and father figures to look up to? What if we stopped seeking what we think is best for us and instead began to seek after God’s heart? What if we prayed for God’s kingdom to come here on earth, and what if we were willing to do what it takes to make that happen?

I have felt the hurt of being told I will never bear children. But I have also felt the healing that comes from letting go of my desires and embracing whatever it is God has planned for me.

To the woman who is hurting, to the man who is aching at the thought of never having a son, to the couple that is struggling with the decisions that are ahead of you: You are not alone. Whatever you decide, there is no shame. There is no judgment here, only love. I pray that God will guard your heart during such a painful time as this. I pray that you are protected. I pray that your heart will become a fertile garden, ready to receive the seeds that God wants to sow in your life.

And above all, I pray for God’s kingdom to come.

Advertisements

The Cost of Adoption

I discussed in my previous post my hesitancy to pursue infant adoption because of how much it would cost us. I HATE spending money. David can tell you that he is the one who spends all our money, because I simply don’t buy things. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a mom who was always very cautious and conscious about spending, but I just have a hard time dishing out money for anything. I’ll be completely transparent and tell you that I’ve been in need of some new underwear for almost a year but keep wearing the old, falling apart ones because I don’t want to spend the money.

So I choke when I think about the amount of money we are about to spend on adoption.

The average domestic infant adoption costs between 30 and 50 THOUSAND dollars. We expect to spend close to $45,000 before ours is all said and done. So where does all that money go?! Am I literally buying a baby????

In response to my own curiosity and the questions from friends and family, I’d like to break down the costs associated with infant adoption so that you’ll have a better idea where all this money is going and so you can make an informed decision on whether you’d like to donate to our fundraising efforts.

So far we have spent very little. Our adoption agency (Faithful Adoption Consultants) is not a “placement agency”. Instead we pay them a small fee and they network with many different placement agencies around the country to find a match for us. For this reason, we will be matched with a birth mother rather quickly (hopefully!). Their average “wait” is 4 months before a match! If you know anything about adoption, you’ll know that is amazing. FAC charges a $3,500 flat fee for a one year contract. They are walking us through every step of the journey and have already been so helpful.

Costs vary widely based on many different variables, which is why it is hard to determine exactly how much we will spend on our infant adoption.

The following numbers have been compiled from different agency costs lists, but my main source was The Spruce.

Home studies can cost anywhere between $700 and $2,500. I’m not sure what our cost will be.

Agency fees vary between placement agencies, but the costs all seem to average out in the end. As far as I can tell, much of the money you pay to the agencies goes toward legal fees and counseling services provided to the birth mother.
Together with legal fees, this can equal out to about $20,000 – 25,000.

In many cases adoptive parents are required to pay for basic living expenses for the birth mother. This amount could be anything from $500 to $12,000.

We will also be required to pay for any medical costs associated with the birth. If the birth mother does not have insurance or qualify for medicaid, or if her insurance does not cover all of the hospital bills, we could be looking at another $10,000+ depending on the difficulty of the birth.

We will be required to travel to the hospital when the baby is born and stay within that state until we are given legal permission to leave. That could take up to three weeks, but often times does not take that long. So travel is an additional expense, and depending on the length of stay may cost us up to $5,000.

There are also small fees and things we must purchase along the way. We are working on our adoption profile book, which will be used to present us to prospective birth mothers. There are costs associated with making and printing copies of that as well.

So it all adds up. And it’s a lot! But a thing that I’ve been pondering is truly how little it is compared to the cost of my own adoption. Easter brought to mind the gruesome way in which Jesus died for my sins so that I could become a child of God. The payment He made so that I could be adopted into God’s family was so much more than $45,000. It was His life. He gave everything willingly. And so I willingly save my pennies and shamelessly beg for you to help!

Keeping in mind that we need proof of funds before we can be matched – and a match can come very quickly- we are asking you to please consider donating to our adoption fund. And please share our story so that others can consider giving too!

You can give online here  or you can mail donations to
David and Amber Siler
18 Sullivan Drive
Granby, CT 06035

Including our t-shirt fundraiser and the jewelry fundraiser that my cousin did for us, we have raised almost $10,000. I am so thankful for those of you who are praying for us and I ask that you continue to pray as we enter into the home study portion of this journey.

What questions or comments do you have? I’d love to hear from you!

Baby Steps

wp-1491059711468.jpg

Everyone has probably noticed by now from the many fundraising posts on my Facebook page that we have begun the process of adoption. A part of me – I’ll admit a HUGE part of me – wanted to keep it a secret, even from our families. I am a private person in general. I remember the exhaustion of having to repeatedly answer the same questions from well meaning, loving people regarding my cancer journey. When announcing our plans to adopt, I had to prepare myself for the same with this journey.

But there is also the loss of the element of surprise, the one I wanted to experience when I announced to friends and family that we had been matched. For me, that is the equivalent of surprising people with a pregnancy announcement. I always looked forward to the way I would tell my parents….my friends. And with this journey publicized, it will be much less of a surprise. The joy of the announcement will be just as real though. And that I know.

In reality, I always knew that we would have to open our story up to the public, if for no other reason than to ask for help. Financially, yes. But there is something so much more helpful about having a community supporting us in every way. Lifting us up in prayer. Protecting our sanity (lol). Encouraging us. Reminding us of God’s faithfulness. We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support that we have already experienced, even at the very beginning of this process.

That being said, I’ve felt God telling me to open up and be transparent throughout our adoption journey. I want to share with you all of the things that have led us to this point. I am well aware that my posts can become rather lengthy sometimes, so my plan is to share our story so far in several posts over the next few days/ weeks. I’ll also include some general facts about domestic infant adoption and try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. And if any of you have questions that you’d like answered or are curious about anything, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll follow our story!

Holding Out

There was a time in my life that I wanted to be a nurse. I went through three semesters of classes and prerequisites, got my CNA license and starting working as a nursing assistant before I decided otherwise. There are a lot of things that changed my mind. The truth is that I can’t really see myself doing anything other than nursing, but it isn’t what I want anymore. I’m not lazy. I LOVE school. If someone would just pay me to go to school for the rest of my life, I’d do it!

But that isn’t going to happen obviously.

  I’m not going to waste my time and money going to school for something if I’m not certain of what I want to do. So here I am. 25 years old, working a low-paying job, barely making ends meet. I live with my best friend’s parents because I wouldn’t be able to afford an apartment even if I had a roommate. Or several roommates. I try not to stress about it, but it’s hard not to.

I know people look at me and wonder what I’m going to do with my life. Can’t live in the basement forever! Even my friends go through the list of career suggestions with me every so often. When I tell people what my heart’s desire is, when I tell them my life’s goal they don’t know how to take it.

When I say that I just want to be a housewife and stay at home mom they always react one of two ways:
1.Laugh. This reaction somehow always catches me off guard. I don’t know what is so funny about me staying home and raising children. Unless they are imagining me in a sit-com like The Brady Bunch or Everybody Loves Raymond. That might be funny.
2. Smile awkwardly and nod hesitantly. Which I take as nonverbal communication for “You poor thing”.

People argue with me about this goal, saying that I will get bored with staying at home and that I will hate it after a while. Others grieve over my “wasted” intelligence that I am apparently obligated to apply to a more worthy cause than loving and serving a husband faithfully and training and equipping the next generation.
I am sick and tired of the raised-eyebrow skeptics who scoff at my choice of “dream job”. I know there are flaws in my plan. For example (and probably the biggest issue currently), I am unmarried. Not only that, I am not in a relationship at all. Haven’t even been on a date in over 3 years. Kind of hard to be a stay at home without a husband! I am terribly picky, because I know EXACTLY what I want in a husband. And I will not settle for less than that. I understand compromise, but there are things that I am not willing to compromise on.

  I ask myself all the same questions that other people ask:
What if I don’t find this elusive man who I wish to marry?
What if I do and he doesn’t make enough money for me to not work? What will I do then?
What if after a few years of marriage, he dies in an accident? How will I support myself and/or our children?
Don’t I want to be able to live independently?

I HATE trying to live up to other people’s expectations of how life is supposed to work. What business is it of their’s what I do? Do I know that I have the potential to be great at many things if I were to go back to school? Yes. I could get a degree, work my way up in a company and make $100,000 dollars a year. I could live a life of luxury in the suburbs with my husband and two kids and our dog. I could work long hours, pay babysitters and daycare to raise my children, give generously to church, missions, and charities. I could enroll my kids in the best schools, the best sports programs and music lessons of all kinds. I could take amazing vacations to New York, Paris and Disney World.

Or I could live a quiet, simple life working a nursing job in some hospital. My children would have everything they needed and most of what they wanted. I’d have a decent house, a nice car, money to spare. I’d take a vacation here and there, be as involved as I could be as a working mom in my children’s lives and only see my husband when our schedules didn’t clash.

But I don’t want any of that.
The thought of those lifestyles makes me physically ill. I am willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to be there to raise my children myself. I don’t want the American Dream. I don’t want my children growing up thinking that they are entitled to anything. I’d rather raise my children in Africa, relying on God for anything and everything. I’d rather live the simplest of lives, without the distractions of cable TV and smart phones. I’d give up pretty much anything. Because the important thing is to live life for God’s glory and to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. 

I was blessed enough to have a mother who was able to stay home with my sister and me for much of our childhood.  The things that I learned from her are invaluable. She taught me how to read, tie my shoes and cook macaroni and cheese. She tucked me in every night and made me toast (with the crust cut off!) every morning. She taught me how to manage money wisely, stretching every penny when we had very little. She taught me that buying things at the thrift store isn’t shameful or gross, it is smart. She taught me that food on the table is a blessing and if I didn’t eat it, I wasn’t eating anything else. We ate dinner at the table, not in front of the  television. We spent time playing card games together as a family instead of playing games on an iPad. My mom prayed with me and for me daily. She spent time in God’s word and lived as an awesome example to me and my sister, and she still does.
We may have never had the coolest clothes or the newest toys, but we had the best mom in the world. She sacrificed everything for us so that we would always have what we needed. If my children have even half the love and fond memories of me that I have for my mother,  then I will count my life more than worthwhile.

So what do I want to do with my life? I want to be a mom. Money means nothing to me. Status means even less. I am so thankful to have had the upbringing that I did. I don’t have a sense of entitlement, because I was taught to appreciate what I have. I learned to cherish people and memories rather than things. That is life I want for my children.

There are too many kids in this world growing up with absent parents. Children who come from single parent homes or whose parent’s both work full-time. These kids are raised by whoever is left to watch them…Grandparents, daycare workers, babysitters and friends. There is a lack of consistency and no real sense of PARENTHOOD. I believe that the main reason that this world is deteriorating so quickly is because of a lack of leadership and role modeling in the home.

Now I understand that it isn’t always possible for moms to stay home with their kids. I also realize that not every child raised by his grandparents grows up to be a serial killer. In fact, many of these kids rise above circumstance and grow up to become amazing people! What I am saying though, is that I want the opportunity to be one of the main influences in my children’s lives. I want to instill in them the same values that my parents planted in my heart. I want to play with them, pray with them and see them come to know and love Jesus. I feel as though that is my responsibility and calling.
I want to watch my kids go out into the world and make a difference. Because every life that they touch, I will have had a part in. I see nothing more worthy of my life’s dedication than staying at home changing diapers, sweeping floors, cooking and doing laundry. The rest of the world can turn their noses up if they’d like.

Yes, I’m still waiting for that husband to make that life possible, but I’m trying to keep my head up while I wait.
So keep your comments and your advice to yourself please.
No, I’m not living the typical American lifestyle. I’m not working toward some lofty career goal. I don’t have a five-year plan. I barely have a five-day plan.
So what?!
I know what God’s call is for my life. And I’m holding out for His best.