Monday, December 18, 2017

Fixed

I decorated my daughter's grave for Christmas recently. This has been my tradition for many Christmas seasons now. This is all I can tangibly do for my child for this special occasion... for any occasion.


As I was driving to the cemetery that evening, I passed the high-school that I attended. My cousin Thomas who is on the cross-country team was running with a teammate when he spotted me and excitedly waved. As I tidy things up, the sun was setting and I heard the cars zipping by.

It feels like the whole world is zipping by. The busy world is in a blur all around, but inside the gate surrounding the cemetery, all is fixed and silent.

I can hardly find words to describe what I'm feeling. It's like I drove in and everything slowed down around me. The whole world goes on and my world stops when I'm there. I've changed, grown, and aged in these years that I've been tending to the grave of a child who never will.


In a world where nothing seems fixed and things can seem chaotic and unpredictable, I know what to expect at the cemetery. Her stone is fixed. The things I'll need to do to tend to her spot are fixed. Her status as dead is fixed. Her being my forever baby and never my 7-year-old anticipating Christmas is fixed. Our relationship separated by realms is fixed.

But even in all the fixed permanent heartbreaking things that child loss entails, my Home in Heaven is fixed. Lily's place next to Jesus is fixed. Immovable. Unshakeable. The blur of this changing world will one day be steadied and fixed in Eternity, where I will no longer decorate my daughter's grave for Christmas. ❤️🎄💚 

Here are the decorations I took to Lily's spot this year... an "L" stocking, a sleigh, a Christmas tree, a snowman ornament, ice skates, and a Christmas flag. :)


About a week later, I took a couple more decorations there... the flowers and little tree for her vase.


Photobucket
This post left me:

Abortion and Miscarriage Grief

I've been seeing a lot of talk swirling around recently after Planned Parenthood shared a quote with an article that claims abortion is the same thing as miscarriage.

Grieving parents who've lost a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth are clearly and understandably upset because of the reality of the stark differences. One is a deliberate taking of life and the other is an unintentional loss of life. This is obviously different.

But as someone who has experienced both, I'm here to share my thoughts.


While the losses are undeniably different, the grief over the losses can be very much the same (I know this is not a popular statement) because each results in the loss of one's own child and all their lives would have held. Not everyone regrets their abortion, so I'm not talking about them. I'm referring to the millions of women (and men), who do regret their decision to end the life of their unborn baby.

In February 2009, I chose for a heartbeat to cease within my body at 6 weeks gestation, and a year later another heartbeat would cease within my body that wasn't my choice. A baby who grew big and strong until she was suddenly lost 2 days past her due date. Both hearts beat on in Eternity. Both hearts changed mine. The ceasing of one left me with regret while the ceasing of the other left me with peace. The difference being the surrender to God's will.

As alone as I feel at times in loving and missing Lily, I feel even more so about Luke. I wonder how could I expect others to miss him when I didn't even know him? How could I expect others to love him when I loved him too late?

I feel like a fraud and a phony, when I know others believe I have no reason or right to grieve. After all, it was a choice I made. Some of the same people that validate my grieving Lily believe my grieving Luke is invalid. There are the rare friends who honor and remember Luke alongside me as well.

Doesn't regret flow out of choices that we wish we could re-do? Why do we have grace for other forms of regret, but not for this?

Once post-abortive women and men come to understand the depth of the painful reality of their choice, the last thing they need is further condemnation piled on top of them. What they need is compassion, love, grace, and mercy. Just as Christ has given each and every one of us.

Would we rather women not regret their abortions? We should be grateful for the empowerment of the witness of those who have awakened to the truth of the wrong they have done. Who better to testify to the ravages of abortion than those who have been through it?

Our compassion should be fueled by taking into consideration the confusion created by abortion being sanctioned by the law and by much of society. After all, if it's legal, it must be right and good. Living in a nation that constantly bombards us with messages of "choice," "rights" and "look our for number one," why should we be shocked when people actually live by these all-pervasive messages?

When we deny women the right to grieve, we are saying that that child's life who was aborted didn't really matter. Does that life not deserve to be grieved and acknowledged? Do the sins of the parents wipe out the validity and sanctity of the aborted child?

We fight for life and say we value it, yet why don't we give room and grace to those who've lost a baby in any way? Why do we silence these women and men and want them to "move on" without pause? Why do we tell them they can have another baby as if that somehow makes it okay that this baby died?

Unashamedly I say that both my babies lives matter. I grieve the loss of both of them. I have two children and no lack of understanding from others will change that truth.

It was a gift the Lord gave me when He opened up my heart to love both Lily and Luke as much as I do. And because of how much I love them, I miss them with that same great measure. The grief, in turn, is also a gift, for even that points to the sanctity of their lives and each life, no matter how brief! The agony of regret and guilt adds another dimension to the complicated grief over Luke.

As I've processed my abortion experience and pain over the past almost 9 years, I've grown to have grace and compassion for 19-year-old me, who chose to have an abortion. At that age, I convinced myself that somehow this page in the story of my life could be erased, torn out. That's what the deceiver whispered in my ear. But, now I see so clearly. It was a lie. And I was in such a place of vulnerability and desperation that I was willing, eager even, to believe it.

I realize this could happen to anyone given the right, or shall I say wrong, circumstances. I pray you will remember the same next time you come across a woman who is grieving her child lost through abortion.

Photobucket
This post left me:

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Our Scars Tell Our Stories: Bex's Adoption Story

I'm excited that I have another guest post for ya'll! My dear friend Bex is sharing her story of open adoption. She's a birthmom to her son, Kip. She placed him for adoption in 2008, less than a year before I got pregnant with Lily. I knew about her story and reached out to her when I needed a friend and someone who understood what I was going through. She was that friend to me, helping me through my pregnancy and through my wrestling with the choice of adoption or parenting. Her friendship has been incredibly precious to me in how we've helped each other process our experiences. Besides Lily's father, she was literally the first person to know about her. I know you'll be blessed to read what she's written. She could have shared so much and I hope you'll follow along with her adoption story on Instagram to read much more (link at the end of the post). I wanted to share stories of people touched in multiple ways by adoption, to share the beautiful and the hard, because after all, adoption is born out of loss. It's incredibly important to truly hear other people's stories and perspectives. It helps us learn to be empathetic and loving when we get outside of our own bubbles and recognize we have much to learn from the experience of others. I pray Bex's words will especially touch those considering placing their child for adoption themselves and those who've adopted a child or are considering adoption one.


************

I was 18, from a "good home," and I "knew better." I had run from hurt straight into more. I found myself carrying the baby of someone I didn't have a healthy relationship with.

"How will I tell the people I love that I am pregnant? What will they say and think? What if something happens and I don't actually have to deal with this?" Irresponsible. Dirty. Not good enough. Shame sneaks in and pins me down. My belly grows and there are now stretch marks... evidence of my mistake. Who would want me with this story and these scars?


I moved to Colorado to be with a friend and her family who took me in and loved the mess I was. They supported me in looking into all my options. Adoption was presented and I balked at the idea. I could never give my baby to a family I didn't know and go on living life wondering about him. Through the course of the summer I became educated about the option of adoption. When I learned about open adoption I knew this was the only way I could move forward in making an adoption plan. Open adoption means the birth family and adoptive family share personal/identifying information and communicate directly, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything beyond that...it's really up to the particular triad as to how that is handled and plays out.

God brought a couple into my life that "happened" to be working with the same agency I was. We built a relationship and began to move forward with the adoption plan. We talked about what it would look like for us to choose open adoption. We knew it wouldn't be easy, but it would be healthy and best for all of us. There isn't a contract of guidelines stating how the open adoption will work, so this means there has to be an abundance of grace for each other.

My labor and delivery was not at all what I planned. After many hours of no progression, my son, Kipling, was born via cesarean. November 1, 2008, 9:25p, 7lb 8 oz, 21 in. The days following I was healing from major surgery, trying to be a mom, and dealing with emotional and mental stress. All too soon it was time for us to part; I signed final relinquishment paperwork while holding him...it was surreal. He went home to his new life and I left empty handed and broken-hearted.


I did not seek post placement counseling....I was told the grief I felt was normal and it would eventually subside. I was told so often that I was brave and strong, which I *heard* as "you are strong, strong people aren't sad about decisions they've made like this." Looking back I realize that is not what was meant, but this is how I applied those words.

Not terribly long ago I was attending a birth (I am a doula) and a nurse said to the client, "you do all this work and then you get to take your baby home!" I about lost it because all I could think was "I did this and I didn't get to take my baby home." This pushed me to get professional counseling. Through counseling I was able to continue processing my birth story. One of the biggest things that came out of this was learning to not bottle my emotions up, because they would just be a huge mess near Kip's birthday, visits, and holidays. It's a process...I didn't finish that season of counseling having it all together. I'm so thankful to my counselor for the hours she put into listening to my story, letting me feel all the feels with no judgement, teaching me healthy ways to process grief, and for affirming what is true!

Bex, her husband Ben, and Kip at their wedding

There have been seasons when I've struggled with how our open adoption relationship functions, and seasons when it is everything I could hope for it to be. But this is the joy of openness...there is a relationship to be had! I'm so thankful E and L have always been open to me. And with that there is great peace and joy in knowing my little boy is happy, healthy, and so very loved. This is the tension of adoption, it is beautiful and hard.

Earlier I mentioned the shame and guilt I felt after finding out I was pregnant. There are still days when I don't remember Who I am in and the shame sneaks back in. There are still days when I look down and cringe at my stretch marks. But there are days I am able to rest in God's healing. He goes before and comes behind giving each piece of my story a purpose, banishing shame, and giving me grace and forgiveness.


If you are considering placing your child for adoption, I want you to know I am here for you. Feel free to follow my adoption story on Instagram @bex_tummymommy

Here is a beautiful video from Kip's Entrustment Ceremony.

"We pray that you'll always know that the reason that you have two families is not because you were loved less, but because you were loved more."


************

Bex and I in Denver, Colorado in 2015.


Here are our friendship bracelets with our tattoos for the little ones who brought us together in friendship. She was one of the first to know the name that is now forever on my wrist.


Bex and I with Kip at his 3rd birthday party in 2011. :)


You can read all the posts I've shared about Bex and Kip by clicking here.

This post left me:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Lily with Santa

The Christmas season means many parents are getting photos of their children sitting on Santa's lap.

I never got a photo like that.

Some people on Facebook teamed up to offer these unique Santa photos free of charge for those who've lost children. It's such a sweet gesture and touches my heart.

Lily with Santa. I don't know how much we would have gotten into the whole Santa thing, but it's special to have regardless. ❤️ 🎄 ❄️ ⛄️ 🎁  #HonoringLilyatChristmas


As my friend Hannah said, it's a gift to have the choice of whether to take our children to see Santa. When our babies die, we lose that gift of choice. She said even though it's not the same choice I would have been able to make if Lily were here, it's still a choice. I'm still getting to make some choices for Lily. I chose to have her photo made "with" Santa. What a lovely and comforting way to look at it.

Photobucket
This post left me:

8 Begins

December brings the reminder that Lily would be turning a new age soon. She'd be 8 in just 3 months. It starts when December 10th and 11th roll around. You see, Josie Duggar turned 8 yesterday, on the 10th. And Lily's cousin, Owen, turns 8 today.

The reason I remember Josie's birthday is because she was due on March 18th, 2010 and Lily was due on March 14th, 2010 and was unexpectedly stillborn on March 16th, 2010. I remember when I was pregnant with Lily and finding out that Michelle was pregnant with Josie and thinking it was special they were due just days apart.

And then of course little Josie was born over 3 months prematurely, spending time in the NICU. While this tiny girl was fighting for her life, my Lily grew big and strong in what should be the safest place on Earth, in her mother's womb. 

But Josie survived to see her 8th birthday. And Lily did not... even though she was in the best place I thought she could be. I sometimes think if Lily had just been born a few days earlier, she would have been born alive. It's difficult to know that she could have survived for literally months outside of the womb before the time she was born, yet she died because she was in the safe place. It's all so hard to wrap my mind around.

Josie Duggar will always remind me of Lily. Seeing her grow up some on the 19 Kids and Counting television show just blew my mind to know my girl would be that big too. They are equally as real and equally as important and cherished by their families.

And then Lily's cousin, Owen, turns 8 today. Owen is my first cousin, Daniel's, son. I have written many times about how Owen and Lily are boy and girl cousins born 3 months apart, just as Daniel and I are boy and girl cousins born 4 months apart.

As the years have passed, honestly it has gotten a lot easier for me to think about Owen growing up and to see photos of him. He is absolutely adorable! But each year on his birthday, I am reminded afresh of the little girl who should be having a birthday close behind him.

I wish I was feeling amazed at how fast my daughter is growing up, how the years are flying by... but instead, I am sad that the years are flying by, but my daughter will never grow up. She will always be my baby.

You can read all the posts I've written about Owen through the years by clicking here.

And you can click here to read a post I shared before about the Duggar family.

Here I am with Daniel 8 years ago this month - shortly after Owen was born and Lily was growing away! I actually still have and wear that shirt!


Daniel and I visiting Lily's special spot around Thanksgiving 2013, shortly after her permanent stone was installed.


This photo was taken during the summer of 2010. It was the first time I met Owen and would have been the first time 3-month-old Lily would have met him too.


Isn't he a cutie?! :)


Daniel and I when we were little... how I wish Lily and Owen were in pictures like this together too! Here Dan and I were around the age Owen and Lily are/should be now.


But instead, these are the only sort of pictures they'll ever take "together." Each March, Owen wishes Lily a "Happy Birthday" and takes a photo to send me (except for year 2). It's one of my favorite traditions! I really treasure those photos. Each year, he grows bigger and she stays the same.


Photobucket
This post left me:

Snowman Ornament

My sweet friend Ashley gave me this Christmas ornament in honor of Lily. đŸ˜ŒđŸŽ„❤️⛄️❄️  #LilyKatsChristmasTree #HonoringLilyatChristmas


Photobucket
This post left me:

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Story of Hope for National Adoption Month

I'm excited that I have a few guest blog posts coming your way. Today I am sharing my cousin Hope's adoption story. November is National Adoption Month and I will be highlighting a couple different stories of adoption (just a bit late). I think it's incredibly important to truly hear other people's stories and perspectives. It helps us learn to be empathetic and loving when we get outside of our own bubbles and recognize we have much to learn from the experiences of others. Hope was adopted from China at 17-months and has been such a gift to my family. She just fits. Out of all the billions of people in the world, God so clearly chose her for us and us for her. :) Hope's mother is my mother's sister. I appreciate Hope's transparency. She is currently a nursing student at James Madison University and has a heart for others. She is kind, she is funny and exuberant and though I might be biased, I think she is one special gal.


Hope and I over Thanksgiving... I am trying to find photos of us when we were little

************

I think many people have misconceptions about adoption. Maybe they believe that it's out of their reach, maybe they question their parenting abilities, or maybe they're afraid or unsure of what actually happens during the process, but to me, adoption is one of the most sacrificial actions a couple can take to become a parent. To actually love and take in someone that doesn't look like you, someone that might not even speak your language, is the ultimate act of breaking down cultural barriers and discrimination. Often times our society celebrates the grandiosity of childbirth, all the while forgetting that there are children born every day who are left as orphans. You can't accidentally adopt a child, but you can have an unplanned pregnancy. Adoption is deliberate and intentional. Now I'm not one to slam having a biological birth. In fact, I would like to have my own birth children someday (but not anytime soon because I'm literally so single right now). But what I'm trying to say is that no one should feel ashamed for being adopted, they are not forgotten, but chosen.

My adoption story starts on a February day, when I was much shorter, fatter, and younger. The social worker handed me off to my bright-eyed mom, cheeks glistening with tears as my dad's shaky home video camera captured the whole moment. During the first two days, my parents kept calling me by my wrong Chinese name, but I didn't care. I was Hope. When they brought me home, I was met with warm salutations.



Growing up, my parents never hid the fact that I was adopted. I mean, at some point, they'd have to explain why I looked different from them. They never tried to stifle my culture or make me feel ashamed of it. In fact, when I was younger, we used to celebrate Chinese New Year and we still stay in contact with the families who adopted children through the same agency we went through. I'm not going to lie to you and say that my childhood was perfect, and yes, there have been times where I have thought about my birth parents and what my life could've been. But I am here now, my life is good, and for awhile, I didn't think much about my race or how much adoption has shaped my life.

My parents treated me so much like their own that at times I forgot that I was even Asian. I went to a small, private middle school and even high-school, so I was somewhat sheltered from criticisms that come with my race. It wasn't until I went to a large state college that I truly became aware of myself. People change so much in their early 20's so I guess it really was a proper time to grow my autonomy and become secure in my identity.

During my freshman year, I became best friends with a girl from my church. She is Latina (Mexican to be exact) and she would always invite me to her family gatherings, where I would be the only "non-Latina." Most of her family only spoke Spanish so I had a great opportunity to utilize my very limited Spanish that I learned in high-school and actually use it in conversation. I learned many Spanish slang words and I can say I am conversational now, working on fluency. Her madre (mother) taught me how to cook posole (a Mexican tomato soup with chicken, chickpeas, and lettuce) and I became a fanatic for REAL tacos, not that Taco Bell stuff. My friends taught me Spanish dances such as bachata, salsa, merengue, cumbia, and corridos and we always have a fiesta when we are together. Most times, I feel more comfortable with my Latino friends than my peers on campus. My friend's family culturally "adopted" me, I was their mija (affectionate name to call a daughter). Now there was a period during my sophomore and junior year where this really bothered me, seeing her being so comfortable with HER culture and knowing that regardless of if I was with my adoptive parents or her family, I still was the fish out of water. I often felt left out, questioning my cultural identity. Disclaimer: my parents never made me feel unaccepted, my displaced cultural situation was an automatic consequence of my adoption. I am bound to feel "out of place."

But see the thing is, throughout all this I've come to realize that my life situation makes me unique. How many people have met an Asian who was adopted by white American parents yet is culturally Hispanic? Whereas in the past, I felt out of place, but now I know that I'm right where I need to be. We as humans love to make boxes and keep people in those boxes. Adoption breaks all boundaries and upsets the neatly organized picture in our heads and forces one to create a new scene, create a new picture, one that has never been drawn before. With so much hate in this world towards people of different skin tones, I disagree that "not seeing color" is the correct response. You are allowed to see color. You are allowed to see race. You're just not allowed to judge someone BASED on their race. I want you to be able to see me as fully Asian and fully Latina and fully American because guess what, that's who I am. Denying a part of me is denying my entirety.

Bumma!!!

Adoption is beautiful because I know God put me exactly in the places and situations He's called me to. God brought together a perfect cultural family for me, He has given me a culture I am comfortable with. He has given me parents I am beyond grateful for. He really had something up His sleeve when He paired me with my mom and dad! I am never mad at my biological parents, I have never held anything against them. They gave up their daughter, completely took a risk and trusted that I'd end up with a family that cared for me. I am never mad at my adoptive parents (okay, except for when I was a disgruntled teenager), I have never held anything against them. They adopted a daughter, completely took a risk and trusted that our family would be all they hoped it to be. But let me tell you mom and dad, our family is beyond what you could have ever Hoped for.



Thank you God for making me who I am. Gracias a Dios para hacerme quien soy. ć„Ÿč°˘ä¸Šĺ¸čŽŠćˆ‘ćˆä¸şćˆ‘

Blessings y Saludos,

Hope
This post left me:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...