Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh Gina!

It was the worst week of one of the worst years in my life and it just happened to be Christmas. We got to church early and sat in the third row. I like to sit up close because I'm a people watcher by nature and I try to not be distracted by this habit in church. I was not in a good mood. I was exhausted emotionally and hurting. I tried to remind myself about the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Then a very large couple came and sat down directly in front of me. They smelled bad and were covered in cat hair. Inside I began to feel angrier and more frustrated.

When the music started I could only listen. Sometimes we sing to worship and other times we listen to be ministered to. I needed ministering to. I could not imagine what could possibly rouse me from my self pity, after all it was a Christmas Eve service and I pretty much knew what to expect.

When our pastor began talking he started sharing stories about people in his life who had lost hope and how God worked in their lives to bring them hope abundantly. I had one of those moments where I was sure my face would show up on the screen with the words "Gina, this is for you".

He shared about his son who is in law school and really wanted to find a good Christian woman but in the setting he was in, that was almost an impossibility. He shared about a woman on staff who had tried everything to have a child and had been waiting and waiting to adopt. He showed a beautiful video from only days previous when his son propossed to the girl of his dreams. Then there was another video showing the staff person and her husband who only 2 weeks ago had been blessed with a child through adoption. Slowly I began to forget about the smell in front of me and I stopped noticing the cat hair.

"Lord that's what I need, Hope". God is doing a work in myself and in my family. God has a plan for us and it's a great plan. Right now we are experiencing the pain that often accompanies growth.
1 Corinthians 2:9 “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him.

Often times when we are hurting, we can lose sight of the future and the fact that growth takes time and is by no means easy. I don't know what things God has prepared for my family, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves us enough to be building character in each of us.

I can't recall being more excited to ring in the new year than I am this year! It will go down in history as one of the most difficult years we've had as a family. I was thinking of this verse in 2 Corinthians and it pretty much describes how this year has been.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Corinthians 4 7-11

I love how the last 2 verses give hope. Hope is what I need and I know that my greatest hope is in Jesus. At this point I feel hard pressed on every side and struck down but look at the promise He makes not to crush us or destroy us!

I know that I can trust in the goodness of God and in his perfect timing.

As for the couple sitting in front of us, He raised his hand during the invitation and the woman he was with wept openly. I don't know their story but I repent for my attitude and judgement and I bet God was shaking his head at me and laughing in an "Oh Gina!" kind of way because He knows I am a work in progress.

M.I.A.

I have been missing in action these past few weeks.  I treveled a bit with my husband to beautiful New York City and most recently to a resort in Northern Minnesota for some much needed relaxation and family fun.
My 5 year relationship with my Mac laptop has ended due to it's demise. I hardly know what to do with myself. My mind is full of stories to write and I simply can't do it on any computer but my own. My husband says I'm becoming quirkier in my older age and I suppose this is one example.
I will be back soon and I have a lot to say.
I hope your Christmas was happy and safe!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winner!

Congratulations to Sarah Schwartz, winner of The Rusted Chain gift certificate!  Thanks to all who entered.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finding Joy

I love Christmas, but if I'm being totally honest, there is a lot of stress associated with the Holiday season. For some people, Christmas is a sad and depressing time of year, for others it's stressful or lonely. The financial strain, the busyness and sometimes family issues can be tough this time of year. My fellow blogger Sarah Markley is encouraging us to recognize the joy in our life that is already there. I try hard to be a positive person but sometimes it's easy to get buried under all of the stress of life. I am joining Sarah in her quest to recognize the joy that is right in front of us.

This morning I awoke to the sound of a snowplow outside my window. It is a sound I have known my whole life and it makes me excited to get out of bed and look outside. It was picturesque! The snow was bright and each branch of the trees had a beautiful white layer. It's one of my favorite things about winter!
The view out my backdoor this morning

I am lucky enough to be a stay home mom at this point in my life and there was not anywhere tht we had to be today. I got to have time alone with Rya this morning because Roman slept about 2 hours longer than she did. We played and talked and giggled. I marvel at how precious she is and I love watching her grow. I didn't let Roman take a nap because he's been so hard to get to sleep at night so we had some time together. He needs one on one time and I love listening to him "think out loud". He's so smart! One of the ways he shows love is to come up and ask for a high five, then to pound knuckles, give a kiss and then a hug. It's always in that order. If I ask for a kiss, I get the whole routine.

There's a fire in the fireplace and I'm snuggled under a blanket with Hannah listening to my two year olds have a conversation about what is a "boy thing" and what is a "girl thing". This particular conversation was about the color of socks. They tend to banter back and forth like a grouchy old married couple. I am very aware of the gift that they are in our lives. It was three years ago this week that we were asked to be their parents. Oh how it has changed our lives!

I got to Christmas shop yesterday at the Mall of America with my mom and sisters, an annual tradition that we all look forward to. Hannah was home with the twins. It's very interesting having teenagers and toddlers at the same time. I never know what new things they will learn from the "big" kids. Today they showed me something new Hannah taught them. She asked a series of questions and they answered appropriately. "Where's your clavicle? Where're your ribs? Where's your phalanges? Where's your gluteus maximus? Now shake it"! That made me laugh really hard!

Lastly, I feel very blessed to have Hannah home from school after attending only half days this year. She and I get to spend a lot of time together. I have no idea what next year will bring or where she will be but for now I love each day I get with her. She is so special to me!

I am choosing to not focus on the cereal spilt on the floor, the fact that my insurance company hasn't yet sent us a check for the vehicle my son totaled last month or the call from my husband saying he wouldn't be home until 11 p.m. tonight. Those are in fact part of this day but they will not steal the joy of all that is good in my life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflection

I'm really excited about Thanksgiving this year.  I don't know if I can properly put into words how I feel but I'm going to do my best.

This time last year was our first Thanksgiving in Minnesota.  I was deeply grieving the move and looking back, I was slowly sinking into major depression.  I was trying to be happy because moving home to Minnesota where all of our family lives had been my dream for the past 19 years.  My husband had given up a thriving medical practice that he loved to move because it was what I wanted.  He was frustrated with me because I got what I wanted and yet I was miserable.

In our married life we have moved 4 times to 4 different states.  We've lived away from family and therefore had created our own "families" each time we moved.  When we moved to Minnesota from Indiana we had been there for 14 years.  I had known my children's friends since most of them were born.  We were very connected.

Upon returning to our hometown, I found that my family really didn't know me at all and my college friends had 19 years of shared experiences that I didn't have.  All of which only added to my feeling of loneliness.

Fast forward through a year that has included financial strains, major depression, a lot of stress, one child undergoing drug treatment, 6 children learning their way in this new life, the loss of a beloved pet, some rocks in our marriage,  a totaled vehicle and a miraculously unscathed child.

I am healthy and happy in a way I haven't been in quite sometime.  My son is 4 1/2 months drug free and working hard to remain that way.  My husband and I have worked through hurt and anger to find we have a new appreciation for each other.  It's like being newlyweds only we have 6 kids!  There are some really neat new friends in my life which is amazing because for me, friends are like air, I must have them!   I'm getting to know my family and they me.  It's wonderful to have them nearby. I am so thankful for all they have done for me this past year.

It's amazing the difference one year can make!  I feel so appreciative of the people and the things around me.  I had a strange dream last night but perhaps it will help you understand how I am seeing things.  In my dream, I was pointing out the beautiful things around me and people were laughing at me because they were just ordinary everyday things, but to me they seemed amazingly beautiful!

This year when I give thanks, it will be for my husband, family, friends, health, children and safety of my family.   I really hope it doesn't sound trite.  The depth of my thankfulness is so great that I won't be able to do it justice with words, but God knows my heart.


Psalm 30:11-12
 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bucket List 2010

A Bucket List is a list of things that you would like to accomplish before you "kick the bucket".  I certainly don't plan to die anytime soon but I have been taking stock of where I've been and where I'd like to go.
There are many things that I am passionate about.  I would like to take these things and broaden them.  I also need to play more and I'm coming up with a list of things I'd like to do.  If you know me well, perhaps you can suggest something for me.
1. Learn to sew
2. Travel to Italy
3. Run a marathon
4. Write a book
5. Get my Master's Degree
6. Visit Alaska
7. Go on a mission trip, meet our child we sponsor in Mozambique
8. Start an adoption agency and continue to be an advocate for all sides of the triad.
9. Play on a broomball team
10.Help change the way adoptions are done and decrease costs
11. Read the entire Bible and memorize more and more scripture.
12. Take dancing lessons with Kevin.
13. Raise money or start a foundation to offset the cost of adoption.

Tomorrow I will be starting to become a runner.  It's strange, in my mind I am a runner.  It's just that my body doesn't know it yet! Wish me well!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seeing In Color

I have dreamed about being able to write this post for 8 months.  I've struggled with depression since the birth of my 4th child in 1998.  In March of this year I was diagnosed with Major Depression.  For two weeks I was literally catatonic.  I just sat in bed, unable to feel anything.  I did not talk.  My eyes were open but I saw nothing.  My brain was frozen and I became 'stuck inside myself'.  

Following those two weeks, I continued to be very depressed but could hold short conversations.  I really didn't want to be around anyone.  I preferred to be in bed but I could not sleep so I just sat there.  My computer was my friend.  I played solitaire for hours on end.  This went on for over 2 months.  During that time I was unable to care for myself or my family.  After that I slowly began doing a little more.  I was still stuck inside myself and not able to get out fully.  

I desperately wanted to be well.  To feel something good.  To be a part of the outside world.  I saw a Psychiatrist and a counselor.  I'm going to be honest, depression is a terrible thing!  It's a thief and it robs you of time, happiness, the ability to receive love, and so much more.  It is made worse by the fact that there is no specific cure.  There are many medications which may or may not work and the only way to figure out what works for one specific person is through trial and error.  

It has only been in the past few weeks after my most recent medication change that I have begun to be "me" again.  I hear myself laughing, I mean really laughing and it feels so good!  

I wrote a post about only being able to see shades of gray while I was sick.  This is no longer true.  I am seeing things with new eyes!  I'm not usually someone who admires nature but I have seen the most beautiful sunsets and blue skies lately!   I have a new appreciation for what it means to be able to experience the kind of joy that warms your soul and fills you up.  

Ironically, despite being extremely depressed, I grew so much spiritually.  That may seem strange considering some Christians equate depression with spiritual warfare or a lack of faith somehow.  Not true.  I was hurting deep inside and there was nothing anyone could do for me.  I had a dream that Jesus was in a sleeping bag on my floor right next to my bed.  In my mind's eye I could see Him right beside me.  I felt his presence.  I was so alone emotionally but not spiritually.  I read my Bible and experienced God in a way I hadn't before. 

Now I am learning to let go of some pain and anger that I carry as a result of feeling abandoned, let down, and hurt by others during this time.  I don't really blame anyone, I just think depression is very hard to understand.  I don't think people know what to do for someone with depression and many people feel helpless to not be able to "fix" the person.  I was also vulnerable in a way that I had never been before.  I'm used to being a leader, in charge and the one people turn to.  My depression was shocking to the people who know me best.

I have a new appreciation for my health and what it means to take care of myself.  I owe it to my husband, my children and to myself to make sure I am healthy.

I know that in my life, it has been through the difficult times where I've grown and been used by God the most.  I  look forward to perhaps helping someone else as a result of my experience and I thank God for the ability to see in color! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Get the Plank Out!

It was just an ordinary day in the Emergency Room until the trauma call came. A 5 car motor vehicle accident. My job as a social worker was to stand outside the trauma room, out of everyones way and wait for family to arrive or a wallet with information to contact family. I would then wait for the family to arrive and be there to comfort them, help them obtain information about their loved one, and then walk with them through what would undoubtedly be a traumatic experience.

There were multiple seriously injured people.  It was the worst motor vehicle accident I had ever seen come through the Emergency Room.  Standing on the outskirts of the commotion, I could often learn a lot. On this night, a family of 5 was passing through the state in route to a residency interview. Both adults were instantly killed, and each of their three children came through the Emergency Room. There was a four year old with multiple injuries, though not serious. A three year old that was pronounced brain dead and became an organ donor. There was a tiny 18 month old who was a CPR in progress when she arrived but her injuries were too severe and she died.

A truck driver was also very seriously injured, but his injuries were not life threatening. A man in his early 20's was the last to arrive. He was disoriented and combative. He needed surgery for internal bleeding. I could sense the tension in the Emergency Room. The staff, understandably, was dealing with a great deal of emotion especially considering that there were children involved, but this was different. They began to be short with this man which was not characteristic of their usual professionalism.  I soon learned that he was the driver of the car that caused the accident and his breath smelled of alcohol, and this fact combined with his combativeness and disorientation caused everyone to assume that he was a drunk driver.

The next morning, I read the patient chart. He was a newly diagnosed diabetic who had suffered a diabetic shock (ketoacidosis) while driving. He was a newlywed with a beautiful wife. He was a nice young man who had the misfortune of having a medical emergency while driving and as a result, his life would never be the same.

Ketoacidosis can be smelled on a person's breath. This is due to acetone, a direct byproduct of the spontaneous decomposition of acetoacetic acid. It is often described as smelling like fruit or nail polish remover. It is easy to mistake the smell as alcohol.  Ketoacidosis can occur when a person with diabetes becomes dehydrated.  

This experience was a HUGE lesson for me in not judging others without having all of the facts.  Over the years this has come to mind time and again when I have found myself making an assumption about someone else.  I wonder how often I have missed out on a possible friendship or opportunities to help someone or show compassion simply because I formed my opinions of someone or something without having all the details?  Pity!

Luke 6:42
How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.


At times, I clearly have a plank in my eye.  I have been guilty of jumping to conclusions with those I love as well as those I don't know.  


Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” Isn't that the truth?  It's time wasted.  After all, it is the ultimate commandment to love others.


"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34


Jesus help me to open my heart to the people I come across and the experiences I am given.  Help me to love first and to not form opinions and judgments.  Help me to concentrate on removing the plank from my own eye before I ever begin to point out the speck in the eye of someone else.  Help me to practice love and acceptance with those closest to me first whom I tend to most harshly judge.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hannah is going to Ethiopia, Africa on a mission trip

Hannah is my almost 18 year old daughter.  She loves Jesus, children, music, pjotography and helping others.  
At this time she is unsure of what she wants to do with her life.  She has a huge heart and is
 excited to embark on what she believes will be a life changing endeavor.  Please read about this 
mission opportunity.




Dear Family and Friends,                                                                                                             

I’m writing to tell you about an incredible opportunity I have with my Aunt Marybeth to go to Ethiopia, Africa. My Aunt first traveled to Africa for a mission trip when she was the same age I am now.  She was forever changed by this experience.  I’ve heard her say she “left her heart in Africa”. 

My Aunt and her husband Randy are partnering with their church, Hosanna, in Apple Valley, MN to start a ministry in Hosanna, Ethiopia.  This is something they have desired and prayed about for a very long time.  They traveled to Ethiopia in April to walk the area of Hosanna to see what God was doing there and what he was calling them to do.  Many doors have opened to them since then.  They are building relationships with 26 churches and their leaders.  They are leaving next week to bring all of the churches together to further establish relationships, build them up and lay a foundation for further work with the orphans, widows and bringing hope to the town of Hosanna.   There are many problems in this third world country.   Their goal is to work with the many prostitutes and multitudes of orphans that are in the region.  Their main objective is to bring the love of Jesus to those in need.  They want to help the churches to be better equipped in assisting these underserved people.  This will be done through job training and life skills mentoring.


On our trip, it will just be my Aunt and me as she is going to court for their adoption of my cousin Senait age 6.  While we are there and due to her many contacts and relationships already in place we will be:
            *Spending two days in the orphanage with Senait and the other orphans.  The orphanage is very poor with no running water.  The get their water from a river and bring it back in buckets carried by a donkey.  I’m very excited to love on all of these children!

            *We will be staying a night in Addis where we will be able to visit families in their homes.  We will buy and distribute to each family $8 worth of food, which will last them several months.
            *We will visit the local garbage dump where many people live and survive off  what others have discarded.
            *We will visit with church and government leaders to continue to build
I am so excited to have this opportunity.  I love children and hope that God will use me to spread His love to them.  I’m also excited to use my photography skills to be able to take photos to share and help others gain awareness of the plight of Ethiopians.    


I first and foremost am requesting prayerful support in this venture and as there are costs associated, any financial support would also be appreciated. 

Thank you for your consideration.


Hannah Lind


_____     I can financially give ____________ at this time.
And
_______I will pray for Hannah and Marybeth as they serve in Ethiopia.

If you would like to donate by using Paypal or a secure Credit card payment scroll to the upper left corner of this blog.  We thank you for your prayers and support!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part II

At 33 weeks Kat started having contractions as a result of a urinary track infection and dehydration.  She was hospitalized briefly.  Before she went home, I asked if we could tour the NICU in case the babies would need to be there.  The babies there were so tiny and so sick.  Kat was determined not to deliver early.  At the same time she was physically miserable.  Her doctor scheduled her for an induction on March 13, 2008.  The evening before Kat was to be induced we took Kat and Kristen out for dinner.  It was a nice evening.

We picked Kat up early the next morning.  She was induced but labor didn’t start until early afternoon.  Both Kevin and I were with Kat through the day. Kevin struggled with what his place was.  He came in and out of the room awkwardly.  Kat also had her mom and sister and best friend there as well.  When it was time to deliver the babies, she was moved to the C section room in case one became necessary, which we were told was standard procedure with twins.  Kevin and I got to put on scrubs and Kat’s sister came as well.   I have had the privilege of being in the delivery room with many of the women I worked with.  I have given birth four times.  It was a totally different experience when it was our babies I was watching be born.  Kat was so strong but when the time came closer to deliver I could clearly see the pain on her face anticipating the grief she would soon feel.  Kat's sister and I coached Kat through delivery.  When it came time for Kat to deliver, it hit me that my babies were about to be born.  This whole experience has been surreal.  I was a jumbled mess of emotion at that moment(and many other times as well).  Rya was born first.  I can’t explain the emotions I felt at that moment.  I was excited, nervous, happy, sad for Kat and very hopeful that things would work out.  I was overwhelmed by what was occurring.  I never imagined that making a choice to reach out to someone would result in this day.  Kevin was able to cut her umbilical cord and went with Rya to the warmer.  Of course the first thing he did was take pictures of her feet(because he's a foot and ankle doctor)!  Kat’s contractions stopped so they had to re-start the pitoccin.  When it was time to push Roman out, his placenta was coming before him.  The doctor very calmly asked if his friend Bob was around.  I later realized he was looking for anesthesia to be nearby in case of an emergency c section. I so appreciated his calm demeanor that did not alert us to his concern.   He was able to hold the placenta and push it up so Roman could come first.  Roman was born 21 minutes after Rya.  This time I was able to cut the cord.  How awesome!

Kat’s mom and grandma and Kristen were there shortly after the babies were born.  I will never forget that Kat’s mom looked at me and said "Congratulations".  I was struck by how incredibly hard and very selfless that word was.  Here was grandma telling me, a virtual stranger congratulations on the birth of her grandbabies!  Wow!  There was so much emotion in that room.  That and a whole lot of love.


It would be 48 hours before Kat could sign the adoption papers.  We knew she could still change her mind but I chose to fully fall in love with them and then deal with the consequences later should she not sign. 

It is policy that in an adoption the hospital will provide a room for the adoptive parents to care for the babies if that is the wish of the mom.  There were so many babies born that day that there were no rooms available for us.  Kat offered for us to stay in her room with her.  This is definitely not common in an adoption!  There were so many things about this adoption that were unusual.  Because of this, Kevin went home at night and I stayed.  Kat let me do all of the baby care although she spent a great deal of time holding and loving them.   I remember those first two nights I was SO tired and I was doing all of the care by myself.  I was a little afraid of what I’d gotten myself into.  Two babies are definitely harder than one baby, plus I was 10 years older than the last time I’d cared for a newborn! 

The other children came to the hospital to meet the babies.  I didn't know what to expect.  The moment they saw the babies they all burst into happy tears!  They said "these are our babies!"  They held them and smothered them with kisses.  It is still such a joyful family memory!
The family and Chantel (who's like family)meeting the babies 
Sterling doing double duty
Spencer bonding with Rya
Sweet Linnea
Teary-eyed happy Hannah

During the time we had together in the hospital,  Kat and I talked a lot.  We’d both cry and honestly, it was emotionally exhausting.  When it came time for her to sign the papers, Kevin and I were in the waiting room.  The social worker came out and said that Kat had requested that I be there with her when she signed the papers.  This is not something that happens ever in an adoption.  It was gut wrenching to watch her sobbing as she signed her legal right to be Rya and Roman’s mom away.  I ached for her.

The whole thing drained me emotionally. Kevin could not possibly understand what it was like for me.  I got angry at him for leaving me at the hospital alone to care for both Kat and the babies.  I needed a place to release all of the emotions of the past 3 days and he ended up being my target.  I later had to apologize to him because we were all doing the best we could during this time. He didn't have the experience I had with adoption and he just didn't know his place and this was so out of his realm of comfort.  I had expected things of him without communicating.  Poor guy, he was struggling too with all that was happening.


 I was grieving for Kat.  I was happy for us. I felt guilty for being happy when she was so sad.  

After the papers were signed, Kat had requested a few hours alone with the babies.  Again, this was unusual.  Typically after the papers are signed, the adoptive parents take the baby and she may not see them again while in the hospital.  There are no hard and fast rules to follow, just what is "typical".  I was so ready to have time alone with Kevin and the babies.  I had promised to always respect Kat as their mom and to do whatever I could to lessen her grief.  So we left the hospital and went out for lunch.  I don’t think we really talked.  It was just so much to process. We held hands and held each other but sat in silence.  There are some moments when there are no words necessary.

We had several hours in the hospital alone with Rya and Roman after Kat left.  When we went home, the kids were waiting with signs welcoming the babies.  That night was so wonderful.  I looked around at my 6 kids and was very happy and fulfilled.  The kids have been so fabulous with the babies.  Spencer and Hannah are like 2nd parents.  There is nothing they won’t do for them.  I was surprised to see Spencer so willing to feed and change diapers.  Hannah often kept the babies in her room overnight so we could sleep.  Sterling will do anything from change dirty diapers to lay with them at nap time.  Linnea is sometimes the one they cry for when they are hurt or in trouble.  They are very blessed to have such awesome siblings and I am proud of them.  They have had to deal with many changes in our life resulting from the adoption.  Linnea was no longer the baby, we couldn't just leave for the day and go to the movies, shopping and our to eat like we used to, there's more noise, stress and busyness in our home.  It hasn't been easy, it kind of rock all of our worlds for a while!   Having so much help from the kids has been a blessing to the parents who had aged quite a bit since Linnea was born! 

We committed to have an open adoption.  Many people have asked us how or why we are willing to do that.  I can’t imagine not having an open adoption.  Kat has given us an incredible gift.  I want her to know the babies and for them to know her.  One of the things we talked about before the babies were born was how difficult it may be to live in the same small town where we could potentially run into each other just about anywhere.  Most of our visits are planned and in our home, but we often see each other at church or at the elementary school.  We leave it up to her to chose to acknowledge us or not.  Sometimes she says hi and keeps walking, other times she will stop and talk and hold the babies.  We try to respect her needs.  We have a bond that will last forever.  She gave birth to the babies.  They look like her.  Rya’s personality reminds me of Kat.  We are entrusted to raise them.  She’s the person I want to call when they do something new because I know she gets as excited about it as I do!  

Ty is the babies’ birthfather.  I had only met him once a very long time ago.  I know he loves the babies.  He and Kat have had an on and off relationship for many years.  On May 1, 2009 when the babies were 13 months old, we were able to meet Ty and his sister Chisty.  I introduced myself to him and said “This is Rya and she looks just like you”.  She really does!  He reached out to hold her and she turned away.  Rya has a hard time warming to new people.  I pointed to Roman and said that he’d let him hold him.  He scooped up Roman and said “Hi little guy, I have pictures of you on my wall.”  He is a big guy and has a rough exterior and lifestyle.  He was not at all what I had imagined he would be.  He was tender with the babies and nice to both Kevin and I.  He took pictures of the babies and seemed to enjoy meeting them.  We were so glad he agreed to meet with us.  We have met with him several times since and he is amazing with them.  He talks to them, nurtures them and always thanks us for letting him see them.  When we do visits we always invite Hallie who was Kat's first child she placed for adoption. Kat's sister and her husband and 3 children are usually there along with grandma and sometimes great grandma  Kristy, Hope, Rya and Roman are all full siblings.  They all look so much alike.  I often show their pictures to Rya/Roman and say there's Hallie, she looks like you.  

Kristen loves the babies.  She has been through a lot in her short life.  She runs to the babies when she sees us and takes them and shows them to people exclaiming, “This is my baby brother and sister!”  We feel it’s our job to help her in any way we can through her grief. 

Over two years have passed since we adopted the babies.  I am so overwhelmed with many emotions.  Here’s what I know.  God loves me!  I am so blessed!  Life doesn’t always go the way we plan for it to go, but God’s way is best!  There is so much joy in our family.  Even during difficult times we stick together.  Our focus is on doing our best with God's help and the help of the people in our "village" to raise our 6 children to know and love Him.  Someone recently asked my son Sterling “what if you hadn’t adopted the babies?”  He was quick to respond “Then we wouldn’t be the Linds!” 

We had lived in Indiana for 13 years.  We felt very clearly when we moved here that it was where God wanted us. Over the years we didn’t know why.  We feel maybe were there because of Rya and Roman.  Recently we were given the opportunity to move back home to Minnesota where our families live.  We don’t think it is a coincidence.  We moved to Minnesota in July 2009.  We try to get back to Indiana as often as we can to continue our relationship with what we now consider to be our extended family.  

I am forever changed by this experience. 
Roman today
Rya today

***Kat had another baby Ellie Rene on April 16, 2009 whom she is parenting.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our adoption story Part I

Sometimes in life, we think we’re heading in one direction but God has other plans.  That’s exactly what happened to us in late 2007.

We had four children ages 9 and up.  We were in a different season of parenting and enjoying it.

I worked with a young woman named Kat over 4 years ago as a social worker for an adoption agency when she placed her newborn daughter Hallie for adoption.  Hallie was born on Easter Sunday of 2004.  Kat was 19 years old at the time.  I was with her in the delivery room as her support person.  I continued to work with her in the years that followed.  I consciously chose to befriend her as well as to mentor her.  She also has a daughter Kirsten who was 8 in 2007.  Kirsten is a year younger than my daughter Linnea.  We live in the same small town and our girls go to the same school.  Kat and I would meet for a Bible study or just to have coffee.  She called me regularly to discuss parenting issues or to just share what was on her mind.  I have always admired her for her strength and courage.  She’s had a hard life and is doing the best she can. 

Kat went on to get married and then in the spring of 2007 she separated and then got divorced.  She moved in with Ty, who is the father of both Kirsten and Hallie.  I lost track of her for a little while until one day I ran into her sister Sophie at the grocery store.  Sophie told me she was living with Ty.  I usually knew when things weren’t going well for Kat because she would stop calling me.  This is what happened early that summer.  We re-connected and Kat told me that she had moved out of Ty's house and back in with her grandma.  She later told me that she was pregnant.  She had every intention of parenting.  One day when she was barely pregnant, she told me she thought she was having twins.  I didn’t say anything but thought there’s no way she could know that and dismissed it.  Sure enough, she found out through an ultrasound that she was in fact having twins!  Amazing!  To this day, she says she “just knew”.

One day Kat came to see me and told me that she had thought about it and realized that she was unable to give 2 babies what they needed and was going to place them for adoption.  Her voice was shaking as she told me.  I sat down and cried.  She asked me why I was crying.  I told her that when I first met her she was a stranger, now she was a friend and that I wouldn’t wish that upon someone once, let alone twice.  I also told her I didn’t want to see her go through such pain but that I would support her and be there for her of course.  She made a remark about wishing we could adopt her babies.  I laughed and said it’s my job to help her find a family.  I gave her profiles of couples waiting to adopt.  I am always excited to show profiles because so many of our couples are so awesome and they become special to me.  Kat asked what would happen if she couldn’t find a couple.  I told her not to worry because I could call other agencies to share their profiles as well.  Several weeks later she asked to meet and interview one couple.  I went with her.  I thought it went well and asked her in the car on the way home, what she was feeling.  She said, “I was thinking all day that I just wish you could adopt my babies”.  Once again I laughed never thinking she was serious.  A few days later she wrote this couple a letter telling them they were wonderful people and she liked them a lot and hoped they would soon have a baby but that she did not feel they were the parents for her babies. 

Thanksgiving Day 2007 arrived and I had invited Kat and her daughter to stop over for dessert if she wanted. This is where our story begins.  We had family visiting from out of town and were enjoying our full stomachs when the phone rang.  It was Kat.  She was calling to say she wouldn't be able make it for dessert.  She went on to tell me that she had told her family that she was going to place her unborn twins for adoption.  She said they were not happy, as she had previously placed a baby as well.  She told them she was considering Kevin and I to raise them.  She went on to clarify and say that she had been praying about it and felt that God was leading her to place the babies with us.  She asked if we would very seriously consider it in prayer. I hung up the phone and immediately told Kevin and his brother and sister in law.  I was literally in shock.  I know Kevin was as well.  I very clearly remember where I was sitting, what I was wearing and how I felt my world spinning with this unexpected request.
Thanksgiving Day 2007 

My first concern was for the agency I worked for.  I contacted my attorney, another adoption agency and the state licensing board to see if there was a conflict of interest.  I was told that she could place her babies with whomever she wanted.  

I loved my job.  I did it because I wanted to help other people.  When we are serving God and serving others, we don't look for anything in return.  I was so shocked that my loving her had resulted in her desiring to give us such a gift.  

One day over a year previous to this I had been driving down the street thinking about this quiet yearning I had for a baby.  I wondered if it was normal and if we as women never lose that instinctive need to nurture.  Kevin and I had very informally talked about adopting internationally, nothing serious.  I had never really spoken of it to anyone.  I prayed that if it be God's will for us to adopt that something would literally "fall into our laps" and if it was not his will that He would take away the desire I had.  That was it.  I remember I let it go at that point.  Funny though, I can still remember the exact street I was driving on and the exact spot where I said the prayer.  

After Kat called us, Kevin agreed to pray about it.  I would have immediately said yes, but then again I am impulsive and thankful to have a husband who keeps me balanced.  I committed to Kevin to let him make this decision by seeking the Lord without trying to sway him(or manipulate him)  We asked those who were close to us to pray for us as well that we would hear God’s will.  We talked about it and then we didn’t talk about it.  We involved the older children in our decision making process.  They were all very excited and said they were up for the challenge of having little ones around the house to help take care of. We prayed and we looked at our finances.  Our financial advisor advised us against it.  Our hearts however did not agree. I’ll let Kevin tell you in his own words what he went through during that time. 

My perspective – On Thanksgiving Day, we were lounging in the living room after a glorious consumption of homemade ravioli.  The phone rang and it was Kat.  Gina talked with her for a short time and when she completed her call she had a very unique expression on her face.  It was one of disbelief, awe, and confusion.  She looked at Jeremy, Karen and I and stated, “She wants US to raise her babies!” 
Two years prior, we had considered adoption but did not actively pursue the process.  We prayed that if God wanted us to adopt we would be patient and wait, jokingly saying that we would adopt if God dropped a baby in our lap.  Well…. He did.  As this was a major decision, regardless of the ultimate outcome, I committed myself to a 4-week period of focused prayer and the seeking of wise counsel.  I even practiced the discipline of fasting at times.  Ultimately, the choice that gave me the greatest sense of peace was to accept the gift of the two babies and proceed with the adoption.  The children were part of the decision-making process and everyone was given time to state their feelings and concerns. 
When I called Kat to tell her that we were elated to accept her sacrificial and loving gift, she was not surprised by my answer.  She stated that she knew all along that this is what God wanted and she had just been waiting for me to figure it out.     

I remember one day during the decision process Kevin called Kat to ask her why she wanted us for her babies.  Her answer was that she had witnessed our parenting, she had witnessed our marriage and she felt we would always respect her.  This statement still plays in my head and I have felt so honored as well as a huge sense of responsibility to live up to these things!  I also remember the day that Kevin came home from work and said “Gina, this is a ministry opportunity and I feel it is what we are suppose to do”.   So the decision was made and I was both excited and nervous.  We started telling people and began preparing our hearts and our home for the new babies.  It was interesting to be on the other side of  adoption going through the home study process.  We chose another good agency to work with us and take care of Kat.

During this time it was hard to really believe this was going to happen.  Kat began asking me to attend her doctor’s appointments.  She had many ultrasounds because of carrying twins and was considered high risk.  She already knew there was one boy but I was in the room when the ultrasound showed that the second baby was a girl.  I cried as I began to imagine having boy/girl twins.  It was beginning to feel more and more real.  I imagined, but could not truely know the joy they would bring to us.   It was fun to see them growing inside her.  She was put on bed rest in December.  My prayer all along was that the babies wouldn’t need to spend any time in the NICU.  I didn’t know how I would be able to manage caring for premature babies 45 minutes away and running back home to care for the four older children.

Kat wrote us letters sharing her feelings. I was so touched to know she was going to entrust us with her babies that she very obviously loved.  It was an extremely emotional time for me.  I can only imagine what she was going through.  She came to our house one day and asked the kids if they wanted to feel the babies and let them place their hands on her stomach to feel them moving.  I think this made it feel real to the kids.  They were so honored that she included them. 

We purchased a crib and put it up in our room right next to our bed.  That night I could sense the crib as I lay there in the dark, and I envisioned the babies there next to me.  I didn’t ever go into a deep sleep that night.  I prayed  and prayed for the babies.  I can't explain it but that was the night I fell in love with them, totally and completely.

It was strange to be thinking of names again.  Hannah and I made lists.  Kevin and I made lists.  It didn’t take long to decide on the names Rya and Roman.  There is a family I know who lived near us that befriended a teenage mom with a newborn.  They would baby-sit for her.  After a few months the gal asked this family if they would adopt her.  I didn’t know the family at the time but when I heard their story I told my friends “someday that’s going to happen to me”. This was over 10 years ago, before I ever even worked in the field of adoption.  Perhaps that's when God began preparing my heart?  The daughter they adopted was named Rya(pronounced 'Rye-ah').  I have always liked that name and it seemed obvious to us that was the name for our baby girl.  We chose the name Roman because we thought it was a strong name.  When it came time to choose middle names, we looked up names that meant ‘gift from God’.  We chose Grace and Matthew because that is what they are, beautiful, precious gifts from God. 

Look for Part II in the coming days

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Just Any Saturday

This morning my husband and I were planning to go to a corn maze and a pumpkin patch with the children and enjoy a family day.  Our son Spencer would be the only one unable to go with us as he was heading to do some work for a friend.
I received a phone call around 10 a.m. stating that Spencer had been in a car accident and had rolled his SUV and landed upside down in a ditch.  It turns out the car rolled twice.  He was suspended by his seat belt.    We immediately headed for the hospital.
Years ago I worked as a social worker in a Trauma Center and my job involved calling families whose loved ones had been in an accident and then meeting them upon arrival to the ER serve as an intermediary between the medical staff and family.  I've seen car accident victims and my mind began to flashback to many situations I'd witnessed.  I knew to expect anything.
 Spencer was able to call us right after the accident and the Sheriff explained the damage to the vehicle and that he looked ok but was being taken to the hospital by EMS.  That was reassuring but then again I've seen people who were awake and alert following an accident who suddenly lost consciousness due to a head injury.
I was relatively calm.  Spencer was on a backboard and wearing a cervical collar when we saw him.  He had a tiny scratch on both knees and one on his hand. He was cracking jokes.  All medical tests came back clear.  Praise the Lord!
We headed to where the car had been towed to see the car and retrieve some items.  The vehicle is totaled.  This is the point when I fell apart.  When I saw the damage to the car, it hit me just how bad the accident was.
At that moment I re-lived the pain of sending him to drug treatment back in June and how we've "got Spencer back" only recently.  He is beginning to thrive at his new school, with new friends and an increased confidence in himself and in life.  I'm loving the time we spend together and how he likes to tell me about what's going on in his life!  I don't worry about him all the time like I used to.
Ok, so now maybe I'm going to worry a little more about his safety but I'm a mom, who can blame me?
Many years ago a brick dropped from a shelf in our garage and hit my son Sterling, who was 3 at the time in the head resulting in a lot of blood, a trip to the ER and some stitches.  I was pretty shaken up.  Later in the day we stopped at a gas station and Sterling looked at the cashier and said "Today my parents almost lost me".
On our way home with Spencer today, we stopped at Panera for some food.  I had this overwhelming urge to tell the cashier that 'today we almost lost Spencer'.
I am sitting in my living room next to Spencer feeling so incredibly thankful!  Two year old Roman just laid down next to Spencer on the couch and said "Spencer cuddle me".   I'm still a bit weak in the knees but at the same time I am giddy with joy.  All of my children are here and safe, my sweet husband too!

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; 
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guest Posting at We Are Grafted In

I'm honored to be guest posting over at We Are Grafted In

Friday, October 15, 2010

What to Expect When Adopting from "hard' Places


More of What to Expect the First Year- A re-post from http://hisgracehisglory.blogspot.com

I'm posting this fabulous information that I wish I had when I was doing International Adoption Home Studies and Post Placement Supervision.  This is valuable information. Gina
As a follow up to my last post, I am re-posting what my dear friend, Shawna, added in the comments (in case you don't read the comments). She is 100% accurate on this.

What newly adoptive parents need the first year from their friends and church family:

1. The first year for parents who adopt children from "hard places" is totally consuming. Regardless of how old the children are, expect that the parents will be as consumed as parents of a newborn baby...with colic. If they are adopting more than one, it will be like having multiples....with colic...and probably food allergies too...just to give some perspective.

2. A wonderful "gift" for adoptive families is to free them up to parent. Intentionally parenting in a way that leads to healing for their children will be absolutely requires 110%, and no one else can do it. But, someone else can: cook, clean, organize clothing, shop, drive, take the dog to the vet, mow the lawn, etc.

3. Another great "gift" that a church can give is to completly release adoptive parents from any and all obligations they have to serve at church. They may think that they can continue to serve, but they can't. (And for that matter, release mom from any obligation to do anything for at least one year....including answer the phone!)

4. Also, during that first year, don't expect that adoptive parents will be able to get away without the kids much. As with a newborn baby, the children will benefit from mom and dad's constant presence in the short term. However, a trusted person who is willing to provide short-term child care, like while mom and dad grab some dessert after bedtime,or so mom can take a walk during naptime, can be helpful.

5. And finally, remember that for the first year, and beyond, these parents will be working so hard to gain their children's trust and win their hearts. As support people, believe it or not, some of what we intend for good can actually be detrimental to this process. Indulging the children with "stuff" or experiences, for example, can compete with the bonding process.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Your Questions Answered: Showers of Blessing

Q: We have a family in our church with four children who will soon be welcoming a sibling group of foster children into their home. We would like to have a "shower" for them, but we know they may not need more stuff (or maybe they do?). What would you recommend we, as a church, do to help them?

A: We have been INCREDIBLY blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ as they have come around us this past year to shower us with blessings of help, resources, and encouragement. The Church can be an extremely huge blessing to a family entering the journey of fostering or adopting a large sibling group (or even a small sibling group!). In fact, I would say that the church is ESSENTIAL for the family to be able to make it through the hard first year.

Here are some things that I know would be very helpful:

MEALS - Deliver dinner every night. For a long time. Months, probably. Think of it as if they just birthed sextuplets! 

If it is DHS, they'll probably be getting money for the new child(ren)'s needs
(like diapers and clothes), 

but

try to think of gifts for the whole family. . . things they probably wouldn't purchase themselves.

-a "Summer Fun" gift box with new beach towels and a family pass to the zoo

-a "Winter Fun" gift box with sleds, hot cocoa, and matching mugs.

A shower to celebrate could be fun, but make sure the guests know that gift cards to Target or money would probably be appreciated more than a whole bunch of toys and gifts for the kids.
AND, keep the shower as low key as possible or have it before the new children arrive. There are a thousand reasons for this (I would be happy to expand on this if anyone wants - just leave a comment).

These are my thoughts, but another family might think something totally different,
so I think I would approach the family and say:
"Hey, we really want to celebrate with you and we were thinking that__________might be a fun way to do that. Would that be helpful to you, or would something else better meet your needs?"

Those are my thoughts based on what we have needed this past year. In retrospect, I had NO IDEA how much support and help we would need and I am so thankful for it. I am especially thankful for the help and support that was given before we had to ask. Most of the time I was so busy and overwhelmed, I didn't even know to ask or who to ask. It was nice that it just came!