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The Journey Continues

With so much going on this time of year, sometimes it's easy to forget about upcoming days that can send my emotions into a tailspin. Then it hits me in the oddest ways.  I have felt the impending gloom regarding Charlotte's July 9 birthday creeping in slowly and stealthily.  I'm totally fine. And then I'm not.  

Losing our daughter would have been challenging regardless of the circumstances but sometimes I think I feel the loss even more profoundly because she almost didn't exist.  I'm not sure how many people know the details of how Charlotte came to find our family.  Don't worry. This isn't some salacious tale of where babies come from

Our journey to parenthood started with challenges.  Back in 2001, after marriage, grad school, and achieving a sense of stability in our lives, we abandoned the birth control and examined our fertility.  Unfortunately, my body didn't want to cooperate.  By early 2004, I was seeing specialists who delivered multiple options.  My body didn't like some of them. Our pocketbook didn't like others.  It was at that time that Roger and I decided that adoption might be the best way to become parents.  

Again, we were flooded with options.  If you have never explored the idea of adoption for your family, you might be surprised by the choices that are available...infant adoption, older child adoption, fostering-to-adopt, foreign adoption, open adoption, closed adoption, domestic adoption, special needs adoption...

There are pros and cons to each option and with each comes varying degrees of stress to your emotions and  your finances.  There are timelines, deadlines, and (oh, yes) mounds of paperwork. We finally settled on a local agency and began a 9 week training course that was the precursor to a home study.   We still had our hearts open to many options but leaned heavily on international adoption.  Then, quite by surprise, as we finished the 9 week course, I found myself pregnant.  My body somehow defeated the odds that were set forth and the game changed.

Image by Jokkeboss
Most of you know how the story goes from there.  As Charlotte got older, we still talked about going back to adoption for another child.  We would wait until she was a little bit older.  There was time.  

After Charlotte died in 2010, my heart was torn in two.  For the longest time, even the idea of bringing another child into our family made my heart hurt.  To make matters worse, people often brought up the subject as a point of conversation.  Here's a Pro Tip: NEVER ask a grieving parent about his or her plans for future children unless they bring up the topic first.  it's just not a good idea. 

In the last year, though, Roger and I have had many discussions.  At first, it was very generic talks about the concept of parenting again.  Then we started talking specifics.  Then we went to meetings with agencies, exploring our options.  I started going to counseling again, needing to work out some of these feelings for myself.  

All of this to say that Saturday, Roger and I attended our first of 3 official training sessions that will make us "Resource Parents" for United Methodist Family Services (UMFS).  At the conclusion of this journey, we hope to have a child (or maybe 2 siblings) placed in our family.  The placement may start as foster care but will hopefully end in adoption.  We could have a child in our home by December or the journey may take a few years.

Yes. This is HUGE. It goes without saying that certain things in our lives will start to shift.  In fact, the shift has already started.  We know that this journey will be far from easy, especially since we will be opening our home to older children who have seen their share of grief and loss in their very short lives.  

As Charlotte's birthday approaches this year, I realize that she would be eight years old. She spent about four years with us here.  After this year, she will have spent more time away from us than with us. That is a pretty major demarcation in our grief journey.  I know that in learning to parent another child, I am not replacing Charlotte but honoring her memory. 

I honor the lessons I learned in becoming her mother and sharing the love I have to give with other children as well. Thanks, kiddo.  I will always be proud to be your mama.    

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