Our Adoption Story: Part One and An Apology

We talked about it for almost two years and now it’s finally happened! We would like to formally introduce Kendric Scott Snyder to you all! Thank you so much for the ongoing prayers and support. Every day I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe he’s finally with us. Isn’t he crazy cute??

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Many people ask, how long did the process take? With adoption, this seems to be the question that we all obsess over. Numerous people have even told me that they thought about adoption but are too afraid of the waiting. Well, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably know that we began thinking about adoption two whole years ago. You may be surprised then when I tell you that the process to adopt Kendric was really only EIGHT MONTHS. It wasn’t long at all. What took us a long time was actually finding the right route for us.

Here, I want to chart out our journey. This is something I would have loved to read when we were exploring our options, I hope it is helpful for you prospective adoptive folks. No journey is the same but I still think it is helpful to glean from the experience of others.

January 2014: When we first started out on the adoption journey, it began with a LOT of research. I scoured the web for adoption stories, hoping to have a better understanding of what we were in for. We didn’t even know where to start. There are sooo many options. Internationally, there are a dozen countries to choose from. Each with different requirements. Then, domestically, it seems that your options are either Fost-to-Adopt or Private Adoption. We knew there was NO WAY we were going to do a private adoption, that’s just for “Baby Shoppers,” right? (Spoiler Alert: Kendric was adopted through a private adoption) So we crossed that off the list right away and explored other options.

The biggest road block we faced was finding a program that would help us adopt a child younger than Luca who at the time, wasn’t even 2 yet. We were holding fast to this stipulation because we had strong feelings about maintaining birth order. This is a concept we had learned about in grad school and also through many adoption advisors. We knew that was something that would be important to us. Luca would remain the eldest. Don’t get me wrong, this decision came with much torment and revisiting multiple times throughout our adoption journey. Knowing that there are so many older children who need to be adopted was tearing our hearts apart. But we also just couldn’t find peace in our hearts about bringing in an older child at that time. We had many friends who are in the adoption world remind us that we can always adopt older children later, when our young kids are older. They are a lot of work and we have to feel called to that, we can’t just do it out of guilt. I am so thankful they gave us permission to do what is best for our family. I know there are cases where families adopt out of birth order and do just fine but we couldn’t feel peace about it.

February 2014: So, now we’re trying to see what options are available to find a baby. But we want to adopt a baby that really “needs” to be adopted, you know. Not just any old healthy baby that those “baby shoppers” would want. (Spoiler Alert: I’m about to blow the lid off of our whole “baby shopper” assumption so hold tight.) Somewhere in my research, I came across the China Special Needs program. China seemed to have their stuff together and I took comfort in that. To adopt a “healthy” baby however would mean a significant wait. Like 7 years. So the Special Needs program seemed to be a good fit because we’d be adopting a baby who really *needed* to be adopted and it would be a much shorter wait.

May 2014: We found an amazing agency, Chinese Children Adoption International, with supportive staff and a good track record. We were so excited! Caleb bought me Rosetta Stone in Chinese for Mother’s Day in hopes that we would learn Mandarin together. The paperwork was intense but we handled it. We began trucking away on our home study.

June-August 2014: Then, when we decided to buy a house, we pushed pause on the process. That pause button was unclicked pretty quickly when we got a call from our agency. They had found a “match.” A little boy born on the same day as Luca but a year later. (Note to all you adoptive families: when you get a “match” before your home study is complete, it means the child is being considered as “hard to place.”) We didn’t realize that at the time and were ecstatic. I mean, we were signed-up through a special needs program so we knew that there would be something going on but what we didn’t expect was a tragic disappointment.

The agency gave us 48 hours to review his file. They recommended that we have his medical records reviewed by a cardiologist. We did. In fact, we had it reviewed by multiple medical professionals. We were devastated when we learned that this sweet boy had so many issues with his heart that it was unlikely he would even be alive by the time we could bring him home. Even if we did get him here, he would be removed from a foster home that he seemed to be very happy in and thrown into multiple surgeries and forced to live with a “family” whom he had never met. It seemed cruel to consider doing that just so that we could feel like heroes. We cried so much those 48 hours. It was heart-breaking.

The whole situation made us completely re-think international adoption but we weren’t sure what to do. We spoke with the local agency director who was conducting our home study and she said they wouldn’t even consider us for their foster-to-adopt program if we wanted a child under 5 years old. Most children in that program are at least 5 before their parents’ rights have been terminated. We felt stuck.

September 2014: Out of nowhere, I see a Facebook post that an adoption agency is looking for families for two babies, both of mixed race. I thought that was strange that they wouldn’t have families for these babies until something from our adoption training (they’re required for your home study) stood out. Non-white babies, specifically babies of African-American descent, aren’t chosen for adoption as often as their white counterparts. Then I remembered a news article I had seen back when we first started the process. The news article stated that Europeans often adopt African-American babies, mostly baby boys, from the U.S. because agencies have difficulty finding homes for them here. Suddenly, everything became clear, there are babies in the US who need to be adopted that are not in the Foster Care system. But that isn’t even what really sealed the deal for us. When we looked into this agency who has posted about needing families, we discovered a whole side to private adoption that we were oblivious to.

Now is when I show you my ugly. I need to apologize publicly for my judgment of private adoptive parents. I assumed that private adoption was so easy and that it was really just for families who wanted a healthy baby fast. I had NO clue of the brokenness and struggle woven throughout this process. I had no idea that this was going to be a beautiful story of redemption and outreach. Not just for the hurting birth mother or for the unborn child, but for me.

To be continued…

The Capsule Wardrobe Experiment: The Essential Piece

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Phase one of the Capsule Wardrobe Experiment was scary but liberating. I felt free to let go of pieces that weren’t serving me anymore and it was glorious. I celebrated. I took three HUGE bags of our clothes that were in bad condition to H&M to be recycled. (Not at all awkward, by the way). Then I donated some more that were in good condition. I hung-up or folded-up the lucky ones- I knew that I loved these pieces and that they still had more to give. The “maybes” were packed into a box and put out of sight in our closet.

Things are looking good at this point. I decided to sit with this selection for a couple of months before really cutting totally back to 33 pieces. The idea behind the capsule wardrobe is that you have 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months at a time- this creates a capsule. Some pieces will crossover into the other capsules. Theoretically, you would end-up with about 75 pieces of kick-butt clothes that fit you well, represent your style, and coordinate fluidly. Sounds like a dream right? I think so too.

Part of my problem with this experiment is that I am a newly re-located Texan. I just moved here from Southern California where seasons don’t really exist. Here in Central Texas, it gets really hot and really cold. I come from a land where flip flops are worn year round. You can see how this is scaring the crap out of me. I’m trying to sort out what type of clothes I’ll need for each season but I haven’t experienced them all yet.

All that being said, I’m holding this all very loosely and providing myself a lot of grace. I really love this post by Courtney of The Project 333. This is so much more than about clothes. It’s about a way of living. My philosophy about clothing, consuming, spending and style has to change. My perfectionism needs to take a back seat to grace.

Grace is the essential piece. Grace not only for the logistics of building a capsule but also for guilt that bubbles up while I let go of pieces. I felt bad about having bought something I never really wore and getting rid of things that were expensive. And then there’s this other thing… I also felt bad about my body. I didn’t really see that coming. I had a lot of pre-kiddo clothes that I was hanging on to that just won’t fit me anymore. My body has changed. Like my good friend likes to say, “ Same square footage, different floor plan.” In the past, I would have put myself on a very restrictive diet and done whatever I could to MAKE those jeans fit. Now, I’m older and wiser. Diets don’t work. Not permanently anyway. I just don’t buy into that BS anymore. So instead, I’m accepting my body where it is and I will offer those skinny jeans on the sacrificial chopping block. They are my peace-offering.

mmm… Before I go, maybe I should mention that before I offered up those jeans, there was a lot of frustration. Self-loathing. Even very crafty compromising. I got REAL creative with my compromising…

You know those hair elastics? Yeah well, I remembered an old trick from when I was pregnant. Do you know where I’m going with this? People, I was skipping, hopping and jumping around my bedroom trying to squeeze into these dang skinny jeans. Once they were finally on, I took my hair elastic and did the loop trick. HALLELUJAH!!! They’re ON! But now you can see my underwear in front because obviously the zipper isn’t coming up. No problem. I grabbed a super long tank and threw it on, then covered it all up with a nice flowy t-shirt. Genius. I do have my Masters Degree, you know.

I felt pretty good about myself for exactly 10 minutes until I realized this was the worst idea EVER. What happens if I get found out? Not only will my polka-dot chones be exposed but so will my insecurity. Not to mention my husband could very possibly actually, physically DIE laughing and if he didn’t, I would never hear the end of it until one us did. So, I took a deep breath (off popped my elastic loop, jk) and said my good byes. I’d rather just suck-it up and give them to some teeny-bopper who actually belongs in Juniors-sized skinny jeans. Hopefully they wont’ mind the broken belt loops on either side of the hips. I’ll let you deduce how that went down.
A few of you have shared that you’ve decided to participate in this experiment too! How’s it going for you? Is anyone else experiencing weird feelings that you didn’t expect?

Keeping it Simple: Capsule Wardrobe Experiment

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I’m sure you’re all shocked that the author of a blog called “Kinda Crunchy” jumped on the minimalist wardrobe bandwagon. I just couldn’t help myself. It was just too awesomely crunchy to pass-up. There were a few factors that contributed to my decision. One of them being that I felt like every morning I stressed over what to wear because I had too many clothes that didn’t really fit or weren’t really “me.” I started reading about de-cluttering and clearing out space in your life and how it creates more inner peace and all that good stuff and who doesn’t want that? No one doesn’t want that. (My mom just vomited in her mouth.)

So, I kinda started clearing stuff out. Tiny understatement. I went from filling half of a walk-in closet plus three stuffed-to-the-brim drawers, and then maybe also some boxes of stored stuff from a past pre-parenthood (aka pre-Jelly Belly) life to now requiring only one row of the walk-in and half-empty drawers. I used this method. Check-it out. It’ll change the way you view your stuff forever. It empowered me to be BRUTAL when de-cluttering. Sweater from {insert relative here} from {insert holiday here} that doesn’t really fit? You will guilt me no more into taking space in my closet. That one shirt that was my favorite forever but now has a little hole and is faded? Peace out, your glory days are like dust in the wind. How about that other thing that I bought because it was kind of what I needed but not really but was irresistibly on sale? Gone. Wait, but not that other thing that my husband says is cute on me but isn’t really my style and I feel awkward every time I wear it? This ain’t your home Mama, bye. If I don’t feel good in it, if it doesn’t “bring me joy,” if I don’t feel happy that I get to wear it then there is no space in my closet or my heart for this item.

You guys/Y’all, this was incredibly difficult. I’m trying to sound all BA (that’s how Christians say “bad ass” without actually swearing) about it, but it caused me physical pain. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that. Crunchy people: you know that feeling when your recycling bin is full and it’s trash day so you just toss that cardboard box which is CLEARLY recyclable into the normal land-fill destined garbage bin? AGONY. Squishy people: you know that feeling when you toss that generous serving of leftovers knowing you could totally have it for lunch tomorrow but you don’t really want to so you hastily shove it down the disposal, hoping your family never knows? THE HORROR. It’s that, “I’m being a wasteful selfish jerk” feeling. Uckgh. It feels slimy.

So how did I cut through the slime and embrace this process? I followed this blog post like it was an IKEA assembly guide. I held tight and I BELIEVED that in the end, this would all work out. The author, in her glorious simplistic way said this in a nutshell, “Your stuff served its purpose. You can thank it for what it did for you but now it can no longer serve you and needs to move on.” Make peace with saying good-bye, you’re only hurting yourself by keeping it because it’s cluttering your space. I don’t know that I really believed it, the stuff I wasn’t wearing a lot, was in my way though. For this reason, I appreciated the step that had me sort out my items into 4 categories: Continue reading