Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lots of Letters

This week has been a busy week! Mike and I made a list of all the priests we know...thankfully Mike knows many priests from his time in seminary, and because he works at our church.

We spent the week gathering contact information and addresses. Tonight we put together our mailing, including a flyer and info cards to spread the word about our desire to adopt.

We are hopeful that this mailing will help in connecting us with a birthmother. Please pray for all mothers, especially those who are unexpectedly pregnant, that they choose life for their baby.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Celebrating Mary's month

Going back many centuries May has been the month that Catholics honor Mary, Jesus' mother. As new life springs forth around us, we also honor Mary who gave life to Jesus, the source of our new life.

A few years ago my friend Beth got me hooked on going on a pilgrimage each May to honor Our Lady, and to pray for special intentions. A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place, and usually involves prayer and/or sacrifice in the travel or along the way. The journey is our offering to God, and purifies our heart and intentions. The history of pilgrimages goes back to the Jewish tradition of journeying to Jerusalem. Early Christians traveled to the Holy Land to visit and pray where Christ lived.

This May has been especially blessed for me.  I have had the opportunity to go on three pilgrimages, step away from the craziness of daily life, and spend some much needed time in prayer. Last weekend Mike and I went on pilgrimage to La Crosse, WI to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is so beautiful there! This week my ladies' group did a pilgrimage right where we live, walking from our parish, Sts. Peter and Paul, to the Lourdes grotto at our cemetery. We prayed three rosaries as we walked, offering our intentions and meditating on Jesus' life (We did get a few quizzical looks from passerby's on our walk!) Next week, my friend Beth and I are going on another pilgrimage to the Lourdes grotto. I can't wait!

There are so many intentions on my heart: Grace to surrender as we come to the end of our fertility treatments, our hopes to adopt, strength and courage for those unexpectedly pregnant to choose life, the needs and intentions of family and friends, for our nation, for the Holy Father, etc, etc, etc. I tend to be a worrier, so it has been especially comforting to place these concerns in Our Lady's arms and know that she is bringing them to Jesus.

May isn't over yet! A May pilgrimage doesn't have to be to a far away and exotic place. It can be to a local church, cemetery with a statue of Our Lady, or a nearby shrine. If you haven't yet, I highly recommend making this a yearly tradition. I'm sure glad I did.

Mary Beth

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Journey toward Adoption

Written by Mary Beth:

I have always thought adoption was a wonderful thing. I just never pictured myself adopting. It has been a slow process and long journey for me to become more open (and even excited) about adoption. Thankfully and mercifully God has softened my heart and nurtured in me a desire to adopt! I am also coming to see how adoption allows a family to image God the Father’s love for us.

Before we got married Mike and I talked about hopes and dreams for our family. If not able to have children physically, we both agreed that we wanted to adopt. Little did we know that God would lead us down this path.

We started trying to conceive with excitement and anticipation. As the months and years passed, with no conception, our hope turned to heartbreak. We experienced sadness, anger,and brokenness. Infertility and subsequent treatment wore us out spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. But we knew we wanted a family, so we started to consider adoption.

Mike, with his big, beautiful heart, was open and excited to all the possibilities of a family through adoption. 

For me it was much longer road. By adopting I felt that I would be giving up my hope of ever bearing children physically. I realize now that’s not true. Who knows what the future holds? 

Also I have a lot of fears. Mostly fears about the unknown: How long will the wait be? Will we be able to afford it? Will we be good parents to an adopted child? Will we be able to address the unique challenges of adopting a transracial child, if God calls us to that? Is God leading us to special needs or older child adoption? How will we share about their adoption with our child? Will an open adoption lessen the bond between us and our adopted child? …and many, many more. 

We applied in November 2011 to an adoption agency. We are on a waiting list to start the adoption process. It is a small agency and they only have room for a certain number of couples on their profile, partly the number of birthmothers choosing adoption is declining. We applied to another agency in August 2012, to be on another waiting list. In the meantime we began spreading the word, hoping to connect directly with a birthmother considering adoption (Both agencies are ready to do a home-study and get us approved/licensed to adopt within 2 months, if we make a connection with a birthmother on our own). 

During this year and a half of waiting, the Lord has softened my heart. I am excited about bringing home our adopted son or daughter! I am looking forward to meeting him or her, seeing their sweet face, and holding them close. This is the grace of God! How did God work in my heart? Through His word and the liturgy. It is amazing how many scripture references and prayers at Mass refer to each person’s identity as a child of God through adoption. Once we started preparing for adoption, I started noticing these references…kind of like when you get a new car, and you start to notice other cars just like it on the road. 

One example is the Collect from the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 

“Almighty ever-living God, whom, taught by the Holy Spirit, we dare to call our Father, bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughter, that we may merit to enter into the inheritance which you have promised.” 

And the Preface from Pentecost: “For bringing your Paschal Mystery to completion, you bestowed the Holy Spirit today on those you made your adopted children by uniting them to your Only Begotten Son.” 

Romans 8:14-17 has also resonated with me. In fact today, as I was thinking of writing this post, it was a reading at Mass for Pentecost. 

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:14-17

We are God’s children by adoption. We can call him “Daddy/Abba, Father”! He has accepted us, welcomed us, and first loved us even in the midst of our brokenness, inadequacy, and sin. He was not afraid to be the first to love. Because we are children of God through adoption we are heirs with Christ and we have the hope of salvation. This is good news! 

I realized that adoption is a special and beautiful way in which we can share in God’s love. A family created through adoption images God’s love in a unique way. The parents and children not only share love with one another, but are also a sign to the world of God’s very love for us, his adopted children. That’s big! That’s an honor! I feel blessed that the Lord is leading us in this direction, and changing my heart. 

I am humbled and excited for what’s to come. While I still feel nervous and fearful at times, I am confident that the God who first adopted me will love me unconditionally, and use me to do the same for another.