So...when will you have more kids?

This is my latest post from the Kindred + Co blog. Published May 29th, 2018. Subscribe to the Kindred + Co blog to get brave adoption community posts to your inbox as soon as they publish.


It seems that the further we get (time-wise) from the death of our daughters and the adoption of our son, the more questions arise about our plans to grow our family again. I imagine that this happens to everyone who has kids. They grow older and we naturally begin to make plans about how our families will grow. When I envisioned this piece of the puzzle growing up, I envisioned sitting with my husband and chatting about when we’d start “trying” again. It goes without saying that the simplicity of that dream still stings for me and for so many of us.

So then a simple prompt about when and how we’ll grow creates a whirlwind of back-and-forths in my heart and head. In full transparency, I have no idea how and when we will add to our family. That said, my not-knowing has nothing to do with wanting more children, and that’s the hard part of it.

You see, I always assumed the answer to those questions was purely based on timing. It’s not uncommon to know how many kids you think you’ll want. I’d say most people at least have a solid range in their minds of how many children they want. So timing + desired age gaps were pretty much my understanding of how that all was to work. Now add in the pain of fertility issues, the frustration of an unclear diagnosis, the terrifying reality of baby funerals and never knowing how to tell people who don’t quite get that “gambling” with our unclear diagnosis means gambling with the life of a child. Add in the expense (the up-front expense, not even just normal expenses of raising a child) of adoption and the position it puts so many financially astute husbands in…..and well, it’s all a recipe for some emotionally charged conversations with your partner, family, and friends.

For many of us, growing our family now means allowing our desire for more children to meet the messy, emotional, heartbreaking side of the rest of it. And it’s just not easy. I’d be the very first to tell you over and over again every single day that bringing our son home was worth every hard moment, but that doesn’t mean the hard moments fall away forever.

So, my friend, this is to you. This is me raising my glass to the complicated questions about “when you’ll have/adopt more kids” and this is me hugging you because you never thought it would be this way. This me saying it’s okay to get feel that pit in your stomach when that question arises, because I know that it reminds you of the pain you’ve already endured, even if it’s also coupled with hope and joyful anticipation for the future. I know how badly you wish the answer to the question was easier.

This is me saying that it’s okay not to know. So often I felt like a bad parent for saying it; as if it was conveying a message about my son or about my love of children in general. I wondered if people would receive my “I don’t know” as a confession of disliking parenthood, but that simply isn’t true. It’s just an accurate reflection of a complicated journey into parenthood that carries with it more emotions than I ever dreamed it would.

We did it.

I can still hardly believe our book project is fully funded. Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who gave, shared, and encouraged us. It means the world. We are so thrilled to be able to share more fully and all in one place the story of our girls. We are so excited to hold the book in our hands, knowing we did it as a community and not alone.

We are dreaming up care packages for those who donated in the various categories, so hang in there with us as we put those together. We are hoping to have them out in time for Christmas (probably wrapped like a present that can go straight under your tree!) :)

We are blown away, especially, by our anonymous donor--who offered much to make this whole thing happen IN ONE DAY. You know who you are. I hope we will be life long friends.

I will keep everyone updated as we delve into this adventure! I think the entire process should take around six months. I am still waiting to process our funds from kickstarter and that should happen in the next few days. EEEK!

In the meantime, I'm still writing over at Kindred & Co (SUCH an honor and such an incredible group of people) and we would love it if you stopped by. 

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I hope your election day is stress free, fabulous, and full of life.

xo,
J

Book Update

We have been so blown away by everyone's generosity so far! We have raised $750 in fifteen days!! We now have 31 days to raise the remaining 1,750 so that we can move forward with publishing. I don't know if we'll hit our goal or not, but if we don't, we are pretty positive we will have to put book publishing on the back-burner for now. Please share and send to anyone who might be willing to help us share Ellie and Elsie's story by publishing on a professional platform that we trust! The smallest amount goes a long way. If 120 people gave just $15.00, we would exceed our goal! So crazy to think about.

Thank you all for your kindness and love. The link to our fundraiser can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1828355500/ellie-and-elsies-story

Keep in mind that if we do not hit our goal, nothing will be charged.

Peace,
Jordan

Equipped

I remember my exact thoughts when we drove home empty handed from the hospital after loss number two. 

"I don't know if I'll recover from this."

Honestly. I wasn't sure. When I think about that car ride I can remember exactly how I felt. It was almost an out of body experience. It wasn't like I knew I would never be the same. That much was a given. It was more of a feeling of deep darkness within my spirit. It was the feeling of sorrow to a degree that I hope to never experience again. In the past when I had gone through hard things, I had the knowledge within my heart that I would be okay, even though I may not have felt it at the time. I did not feel that after my girls. Not at all. Especially after loss number two. Sweet Elsie.

Opportunities to share about our story and about our girls and about our adoption continue to arise as time goes on, and as I stared at the pages of this local magazine that featured our story, I was struck with a feeling that I don't know I've had before in regards to losing our first two.

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I felt grateful. Not grateful for the opportunity, specifically (although I am!) Not grateful for my girls in general. Not grateful for our story (I'm not grateful that my kids died, y'all.) 

I felt grateful that God chooses to give me a voice to speak about hardship and equips me with the strength to do it. After Elsie left, I feared that if I didn't talk about it publicly as soon as possible, everyone would forget about my girls and their legacy and the hope that is to be found. I do not crave the spotlight in any sort of way, I didn't choose this. I'd rather live a long life with my three children than be asked to write and speak about the deaths of the first two. But I craved that my girls would be known. More than anything, I wanted them to be remembered. But honestly, during those first few months I couldn't muster up the strength to share much more than a few blog posts every now and again because the courage just wasn't there. I was so sad. And there still are so many sad days. So many weak days.

So when people tell me I'm strong for sharing more now, or when they tell me that I'm brave, really what they are seeing is that I am equipped. I don't feel strong. Really, I don't. I feel weak. I stare at pictures of my children who are not here and I weep. 

But I feel equipped. And I did not feel equipped before. The Lord continues to give me little ounces of courage at a time. He nudges my heart and he breathes truth into my lungs. I know that my girls will not be forgotten because their lives were too mighty not to be remembered. Their Maker is too mighty not to be noticed. 

So if you're ever wondering what it feels like to talk about them or to write about them or to speak about them. It feels scary. It feels sad. It feels like heartache mixed with hope. But it also feels right.

 

 

Clarification.

In an effort to clarify a post I made on social media, I thought a blog post would be a good start. I posted today about how someone casually mentioned how tan my child looked, failing to consider that he might be a different race than me. I alluded to the fact that transracial adoption in the south can be tricky.

Because it can be.

What I did NOT say was that southerners are racists and that no transracial families exist in the south at large. Because both of those statements would be false.

What I DID mean, is that in my particular town (which...on the scale of rural to urban is somewhere in the middle, probably favoring the rural side,) I rarely ever see white parents who have adopted black babies, or black parents who have adopted white babies. Maybe it's hard for you to believe me because you live in a town in the South where things are not as I say and my response to that is "maybe we should move."

To prove this point to you, a woman came up to me while we were walking and said, "My family is like your family." She went on to say that she wanted to come up and say something even though her son wasn't with her because she rarely sees families like ours and she got so excited. She was so worried she was going to come off as a creeper but she couldn't resist. 

I do not want to disclose my exact area of my town online. I do not want to disclose where I shop, where we play, where we do life. But I can assure you that what I say is true. What I say is my experience. It doesn't have to be yours.

"The South" is a large place. It's a large region. There are certain regions of the south in which transracial adoption is more prevalent. I do not live in one of them. If you do, I am so happy for you. I really am. If you do, and you know families who have adopted transracially, have you asked them about their experience with transracial adoption in the south? Is it enough to know that they exist and to assume that things have been okay for them? What if their experience has been the same as ours and you just don't know it?

It is one thing to know of families who have done it, and it's another to ask them about it. And my hope is that all of their experiences have been positive.

All of ours have not.

But some of ours have been.

I want all of our experiences to be the same as if our family was all one color. Until that happens I am not satisfied. 

Until that happens I am not satisfied.

And I will not defend the south for being accepting and encouraging of racial equality because that has not been my understanding of this part of the country. 

African Americans who are vocal about the black lives matter movement may criticize the white population as a whole as not advocating enough. not speaking out enough. And I am not offended by that. I am not offended by that even though I am not racist. I am not offended by that because I believe that their experiences have been worse than I can ever know.

In the same way (just on a MUCH smaller scale,) when I talk about how the south lacks colorful families I am not disregarding all of the southerners who are excited about transracial families. I am just telling you my experience and hoping you will listen.

It is not enough to me to *know* another family with children who do not look like them who frequent our playground.

I want to *know* that they exist but, more than that, I want to know that they exist and they are treated equally.

I can not type out what people have told us and what (white) women have said to me and my son when we are out and about. I can not tell you what (white) men have said to me as I push my child in the grocery cart.

I can not tell you because if I can not even mention the vague difficulties of not seeing families like ours, then I cannot begin to talk about the ugly in peoples' hearts that make them say the things they do.

And, importantly, because we do not know families like ours personally, we DO attend a church that is ethnically diverse. This is so important to us. Yes, maybe when I am out and about at the park and the grocery store I don't ever spot families like mine, but I belong to a church where we gather and I forget about racial tension because in the eyes of Jesus we are all the same.

It's amazing.

In conclusion, all I can do is share about what we experience in hopes that others will share as well. I hope others will share the good and I hope they will share the bad. I hope that in sharing, the conversation will become more comfortable and we would be able to put away our pride and say, "Hey. I actually don't know what this is like for you but I'm open to hearing about it."

And southern friends in towns that *sound* much more diverse in regards to colorful families, maybe we should head your way. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

Transracial Adoption

The two boys, almost teenagers, stood staring at our little brown skinned beauty who had toddled into the neighbor’s yard as we worked outside. He was fully in our sight and close enough for us to walk over to quickly, yet the boys looked mildly panicked.

It didn’t take long before my husband realized what was going on. They weren’t panicked that he wasn’t directly by our sides. They were panicked because they had no clue where his parents were. They saw this little boy and his dark skin and his curly hair and deep brown eyes and they saw us. Surely this boy had wandered far from his home and down the street into this yard unsupervised.

My husband, Chris, continued to stare at them as they would look at our son, and then at each other, and back at our son. He was waiting for them to connect the dots. Finally they look at Chris and say, “Wait, is he yours?”

Chris chuckles and says, “Yes.”

I think it is so sweet that these two boys would stop what they are doing out of concern for the “lost” child in the yard. I think it’s noble that they contemplated what they should do for his safety.

But because our little mixed race family is such the norm to me, I see interactions like this and they snap me out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone is my transracial home. Except I never think of it as a transracial home until I realize through the stares and the questions that people do not view us the way they view families who are of the same race. Of course sometimes the extra attention is positive, and sometimes it is negative, but my point is just that: it is extra attention.

I find myself talking often with others about how meeting Shepherd felt no different than meeting our daughters in the delivery room. I think that most believe me when I say this. And then a handful can’t quite wrap their head around it. The environment was different. The love was not. From that moment our love for him has never felt unique or foreign or forced. His skin color tells his story and his story is an important one.

It is my dream that this little southern corner of our nation that our family inhabits would one day see us and not think twice. It is my dream that Shepherd would grow to experience life without the added strain of racial tension. We will instill in our son the pride that he should feel not only for his race, but also for his place in our family. We express our dreams and desires through modeling them, and in our family we model that skin color does not dictate belonging. Because Shepherd is not our “black” son. He is our son.

 

The End Of Night Shift

Welp, that's it. Night shift is over.

I will talk about it soon.

Chris handled it well because he's a champ and he's patient and he's the best person I know.

I did not handle it well because..well...so many reasons.

But basically, I am glad to have him back in my time zone and I am very much looking forward to going to sleep with him by my side.

But we did it.

Now for a season of settling in after three and a half years of intense-rollercoaster-y life circumstances.

 

Feelings. Lots of them.

Oh, hi!

My last post was REALLY depressing!

It's fine. I get it. It's hard to read about this stuff. Nobody's yelling at me so I don't know why I'm apologizing. This blog used to be titled "The Adventures of C+J." I'm sure some of you remember that. It was full of college adventures, engagement stories, and newlywed bliss. Haven't been around that long? Don't worry--it's all here. I remember changing the name after we lost Ellie and replanted ourselves at the beach. The title of this place felt too light hearted. Too playful. Too upbeat to contain what would become a record of the hardest moments of our life and our marriage and our family. So I named it Tates at Sea so everyone would know that our little family ship was adrift in the sea that is life and soon our family of 3 minus 1 would grow by a healthy baby girl (cue the 20 week ultrasound) and, oh crap, our boat is sinking. Throw us all the floatation devices.

I'm just kidding.

But am I kidding?

I suppose my reason for bringing it up is that I have neglected this space for a couple of reasons that I need to flesh out. 

The first is that I've been fine tuning the book. And that's a totally awesome excuse that needs no follow up. Book writing is intense! And also emotional! And some days I don't feel strong enough to edit back through tough memories. So there's that.

The second is that I have felt this *imagined* pressure to steer myself back to the fun-loving, sassy, bubbly writer I once was, and I guess a part of me was holding out hope that things would magically click back into place. And maybe they will.

But they probably won't. Because I am so incredibly different than I was 2 years ago. And I am unrecognizably different than I was 3 years ago. My thoughts, my emotions, my heart..it's all different. And it's good different.

It's very good.

It's good because I experienced a lot of pain in a very short span of time and then I experienced a lot of JOY in the sort of way that is surprising and disrupting and amazing. I went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs as I held my miracle baby boy in a hotel 8 hours from home and experienced what it feels like to have a miraculous prayer answered quickly.

I don't care so much about seeking out adventure because INSANE adventure was handed to me and I held on for dear life and now sometimes I just want to sit on my couch and stare at the wall and send my friends weird snapchats. Snapchat is the real adventure.

Anyway. 

A couple of weeks ago I attempted to record a video about infant loss/infertility related stuff because I was having a really tough moment and talking to a camera seemed like a good thing to do? I don't know. Chris was at work. Guys. I cope in weird ways. 

But the point is I wrestled with the idea of even talking about it out loud to a camera in my room because I feel like the grief and mourning I am experiencing right now is the kind of grief that people talk about less. It's been over a year since baby two passed away. And we have another baby now. Things should feel normal, right? 

The year mark with Ellie was when I was wrestling with some really tough stuff. But I was pregnant again with Elsie (and didn't know anything was wrong) and so to the world it seemed like I was on my journey to happy. But I wasn't. I was excited (read scared) about this second pregnancy but I was also feeling the natural "moving on" of the world around me. The first few months after Ellie were full of phone calls and texts and emails and cards and kind gestures and don't get me wrong--I certainly did not want that level of contact to become the norm. But sometimes it's hard to remember that when the year mark hits--people are in an entirely different stage of life and the phrase "time heals" is so popular that most probably assume that a new chapter of healing has come to stay.

But the year mark is a really lonely time. It's lonely because it's when you realize you really are going to be doing life without your baby. It can all seem terribly surreal from the time of death through the funeral and for those first few months. But the weight of reality sinks heavier each month that passes after that. It's almost like one big "what just happened!?" kind of a feeling hits you and then doesn't leave and then you learn you have to process this thing all over again except in a different way...this time you have to sort through the loneliness and the ache and the realization that one year has passed but there are so many more that will pass without them.

How many more of their birthdays do I have to get through? Wait--all of them? ALL of them!?

There is a part of you that wants to believe the loss is temporary, even though that makes no sense at all.

In fact, maybe none of this makes sense at all because that's the thing about loss..it's different for everyone.

But what I said to the camera is this: I *think* it's common to feel this way a year..two years..three years into this thing. Our society does not do grief well. We are the kings and queens of the quick-fix and our solution-oriented culture tempts us to believe there is a way to walk from sadness to happiness quickly if we just follow these steps.

But there is also that infertility related sadness that has come where I KNOW that if things were different I would be at least wanting to think about the possibility of getting pregnant again. But that option is out. There is a whole new wave of people announcing pregnancies because their youngest child is somewhere around that 1 year old mark. I am not naive enough to believe this is the case with the majority of people--but it seems that there is a sort of natural progression for many, and I get it and I wish I could experience what that is all like.

Because it's hard to know how our family will expand and how much money we will have to raise and how long we will wait and etc and etc etc etc.

And I'm not ready for the paperwork and the homestudy and the rollercoaster of being presented and, guys, I just want to sleep with my man and have a healthy baby appear in my womb. I mean...right!? Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Yes. The answer is yes.

So I guess the point of all of this is to say that I'm a year and a half out from loss number 2 and it is still very raw and very hard and very different than it was before and it's hard to describe with words. 

I'm not declaring the struggle for sympathy or phone calls or mail...I'm declaring the struggle so that you know if you read this and you've felt this way or are feeling this way that you are normal and nothing is wrong with you.

Culture..strangers..friends..maybe even family might make you feel like it's time to get a handle on it. But I'm telling you you can find people who get it and you can find friends who understand and who won't judge you when you cry because you miss your kids after a year and a half. I mean. Come on.

I will always say that I believe there are healthy and unhealthy ways to cope..I never ever want grief to be a reason to develop bad habits that lead to destruction. But grief in and of itself is not a problem. Grief is really really painful and really really normal.

Did ya hear that? It's normal. You're normal. You're not dramatic and you're not needy and you're not a burden.

You're just dealing with some hard sH*t.

You're welcome. 

Happy Birthday, Ellie.

I was going to write a post for Ellie's birthday tomorrow...on her birthday, but to be honest, the birthday days are pretty rough. And I can guarantee you I'll be poolside drinking a drink that has alcohol in it and eating good food and I can guarantee it because we planned it and it seems to be the best kind of way to spend these types of days. 

My mom even thought ahead and found a pink mixed drink to make..so that's about as festive as I'm going to get.

Sometimes I have felt guilty that I don't do more festive things on these days. In fact, last year I made a cake on Ellie's birthday that said "YAY HEAVEN" on it and then I felt really depressed and I cried.

But I definitely ate some cake. It was chocolate.

Before you get the idea that I drown my sorrows in alcohol and food, let me assure you that I'm relatively emotionally stable and I cry less than I used to. But those days. They hit hard.

To remember Ellie's day of birth is to remember how I tried to memorize what her movements felt in my womb that day...just in case she wasn't able to move outside of it. It is to remember the words of the NICU team as they rushed her to the corner of the operating room and attempted to sustain her life. Remembering her birthday is remembering the bright blue sheet that hung in my line of vision, blocking my eyes from my belly that would forever be marked with a scar from which she came.

It is remembering my best friend as she held her and spoke softly to her the way you would speak to any newborn, and having it feel so right until you realize it's just her physical body and her spirit has already left.

It is remembering the look of pure love on the face of my husband as he tells her she's so pretty and that he loves her.

It's spending those two terrible nights in the hospital without your child, aching to go home..only to realize that when you go home you will no longer be under the same roof as your baby..even though your baby isn't really there anymore.

You see, I want to be the mom who sends colorful balloons off into the distance, or who bakes cupcakes and adorns them with pink icing and the letters of her name. I want to talk about her and what I think she would be like and I want to find all of the creative ways to celebrate her short, but impactful life. 

But I'm not there. And that's okay. There is enough to deal with on these days to then have to sort through guilt and shame. Especially when I know that neither guilt nor shame are of the Lord. It is enough that I have been robbed of my girls in this life...it is enough.

I am thankful that I have family and friends who ask me what I want to do on these days and who don't judge me when I say "I don't know," or "nothing."

I am thankful for my husband who understands simply by looking at my face what I'm feeling and what I need.

I am thankful for my son who is blissfully unaware of it all. Who will smile and laugh all day like he always does. Who will kiss my face and remind me that God sees.

Happy day of birth tomorrow, Ellie. I miss you more than you know.

Scary and Exciting Things

It's hard to believe that Ellie would be three this year. It's also hard to believe that Elsie would be a year and a half. With the snap of a finger, Shepherd turned one, and we no longer had to imagine what it would be like to plan a first birthday party for our child. It's hard to believe we've been married 5 years, and it's hard to handle that there should be two more sets of feet pitter-pattering around our house. It's hard to imagine life before children and it's even harder to remember life before loss. Needless to say, these are still the things I think about all of the time, even when I'm not thinking out loud about it here. 

After Ellie was born, I started writing more in depth about life and the struggle of grief, and I wrote about it privately. Some I shared here, but most of it was tucked away into the corners of my computer, only being opened when I was feeling brave enough to process or desperate to process. Either way, I continued writing until we found out we were pregnant with Elsie, and then I stopped writing. I stopped writing because I was waiting for our happy pregnancy story. Our happy delivery story. Our happy bringing-baby-home story. I was so excited to be able to conclude Ellie's story with one of redemption and hope. And then we found out about Elsie and I stopped writing all together. I was shocked and scared and lonely and panicked. This wasn't the ending I wanted to write.

As the months went on, I wrote blog posts about the final few months of pregnancy with her, and then delivery. And you all know that if you're reading this.

And then one day...I decided that if a decade passed and I never wrote down Elsie's chapter, I would be incredibly sad. So I kept on.

And it was hard.

I wanted to write through the rawest moments. I wanted to write through the moments where I couldn't even post here. 

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and then Shepherd came and I wrote some more. And then there were so many words that I could fill a book. And then I started wondering if I should actually fill a book. But the thought of that is incredibly scary. It's like opening up a private journal from your hardest time in life and scanning it and inviting the world to read. But then I wondered if it could help. I know a handful of people who have walked through infant loss, but it gets so hard to talk about. And even when we do talk about it, all of our experiences are so different. Just as I read some infant loss books that spoke deeply to me, I also read some that I couldn't finish. What if we were all able to share bits and pieces of our story to let the good stuff seep into the hearts of those that need to feel less lonely in their pain? If my words only helped just one person, would it be worth it?

Yes.

I think it would.

So this book. It's here. On my computer. And I didn't think I was going to announce this, but now I think I will solely for the sake of accountability. If I don't tell you I'm going to do it, I'll chicken out. 

There is a publisher who wants to publish our story. And we think this is a big deal. And we also don't know if we want to maintain full control over it and self-publish, or if we want to allow others in. It's a tough call. But regardless, the words cannot sit forever unopened on my computer. What good is it to fight the hardest trials of life and leave all of the battle tactics, our experience under fire, and our innermost thoughts and fears and failures and victories a secret? I didn't choose this story, and it isn't one I could have ever imagined myself writing, but I cannot keep it here out of fear. 

So I won't. And I don't know when. And I don't have an exact timeline, but I need you guys to hold me accountable. K? K.

It isn't light reading, that's for sure, but there certainly is redemption.

Building a Home

There's been a lot happening around here, some of which I can talk about and some of which I can't yet! But needless to say, we've been busy! (spoiler alert, the thing we can't talk about doesn't have to do with babies, but that time will come eventually!)

We have had an awesome time watching the construction of our house. The builders we went with are incredible, and have been overly generous with us...giving us thousands and thousands of dollars of upgrades at no cost. I'm not sure why. But it feels like a huge blessing. We have been surprised time and time again at how beautiful this floor plan is. It looks like our house costs waaaaay more than it does (Trust me! You'd be surprised!) simply due to their attention to detail and generosity. The house is FINISHED and we will be working on moving over there after we paint.

Here are the progress photos! We signed our building contract on New Year's Eve, when the lot just had a concrete slab on it.




Choosing colors for the exterior:













Finished!



Once we get it all decorated I will upload them to a house tour post. :)

Thoughts as of late

On politics....
1. I hear a lot of people saying they are tired of hearing about Trump because we should just be praying and not giving him attention, even if the attention is bad. I disagree, and the reason is not because I am not confident regarding the power of prayer, but rather that if he is leading the polls, it's because people don't know how bad he is. And so yes, I will pray, but I will also share all that I know of the man until I am confident I did my part to educate the people who are blindly following this guy. I honestly think that if people did just a TEEENY bit of research on the guy, not just what he says from the podium, they would realize they are getting played. Knowledge is power, and until the race is over I will do my part to make sure nobody I know could stand to vote for him. I live in a state where he won the primary. Maybe I'd be singing a different tune if that wasn't the case.

Along the same lines....
2. One of the reasons people (Christians) are saying we should stop talking about him is because they believe scripture tells us that God will bring into power and leadership who he will. And this takes me back to the argument I have made multiple times on this blog- not everything that happens on this earth is God's perfect will for mankind. I am confident of this. Do we need to pray? Yes. But if every single thing that happened on this earth was God's will and was going to happen regardless of our efforts, there would be no need to pray. We should absolutely be praying about politics, religion, and all matters of life, but we have voices and minds and resources to shed light on corrupt leaders, and these are also valuable tools.

On transracial adoption..
3. I typically don't talk about matters of race here but recently I was watching a live stream where two individuals, a husband and wife, were talking about politics and then life in general. The subject of adoption came up and then the subject of transracial adoption came up. Personally having a child who is not the same race as me has given me a variety of experiences out in public (in the south) that I wouldn't otherwise have had. Some white people scoff, some white people swoon. Some black people scoff, some black people swoon. People of all races have an opinion, and their opinion is not culturally exclusive. I reject the notion that because someone is black, they automatically own a set of opinions and beliefs that all black people on God's green earth would agree with, just as is the case for white people, Christians, Jews, Indians, Hispanics, etc. During the live stream, the wife said that if a white family adopts a black baby, they should "raise him as a black child." The husband (also black) said to his wife, "So what does that mean exactly?" She replied, "What do you mean?" And he said "What does that mean for day to day life? What do you do in your day that a white person does not do in their day that would distinguish your daily routine as "black" and theirs as "white?" She was silent. Then she said, "Good point." Because she, just like me, woke up, drank some coffee, got dressed, put on makeup, went to the grocery store, etc, etc. The conversation continued down this path and some good points were made--that the distinction is mostly internal, with a few exceptions for sure, but that in the actual day to day routine of life--from picking Shepherd up from his crib in the morning, to changing him, to feeding him, to playing with him, to putting his down for a nap--the ins and outs of life with our son is governed by our beliefs as parents, not our beliefs as white parents
Our child is being raised differently than our white neighbors next door, and differently than our other white neighbors, and differently than our other black neighbors and their children. I reject the notion that because I have less melanin in my skin, I am incapable of raising our son properly. I absolutely disagree with those in opposition to transracial adoption who throw around the phrase, "How to be black." As mentioned above, there isn't one way to be black or one way to be white. There isn't one specific set of experiences or attitudes that is universal to each race. In the same breath, I also know that there WILL be tough conversations about race that we will have to have as we prepare Shepherd to one day operate in the world apart from us. I am not raising him to be "colorblind," because the large majority of our society, especially here in the south, is NOT colorblind. I wish this wasn't the case. It would be damaging of us to raise him without an understanding of racism and how it affects the world around us. He will know what white privilege means. But Shepherd is first and foremost my son, not my "black" son, and the way we parent him has everything to do with our understanding of the Gospel and who we are as Believers, NOT who we are as white people. Similarly, we don't hold to traditions for the sake of holding to traditions. Our family's beliefs, attitudes, and activities are not governed by traditions of race. The same couple pondered the question, "Would white families be okay with black families adopting white children?" To which the exact argument I'm making above would apply. Some would be great with it, some would not be. I hope to see an influx of families of all races adopting outside of their race, especially in the south. It changes things.

On infant loss..
4. Still hard.

On home-building..
5. Much easier and less stressful than I anticipated! We move in about 6 weeks and then I can stop living out of boxes.

On coffee..
6. Need more. Byyyye!







2016

It seems silly to write a blog post about how I'm not sure of what to write anymore, but I never write for the sake of sharing; I have always written to process the things I'm thinking about..and more often than not I write when I've already had some sort of revelation or breakthrough in my thinking. Sometimes the breakthrough comes mid-post and sometimes it hits me before I sit down to type, but nonetheless, I've been thinking about a lot of things lately and everything I've been thinking of has inspired me to write and nothing I've been thinking of is well thought out enough to put into words...which is quite the dilemma.

I've been oversharing on instagram most days and sometimes feel like that little space is a mini-blog of sorts, but with that sharing has come an influx of emails and private messages about infant loss, transracial adoption, secondary infertility, marriage, and faith. And I won't lie, it's been pretty great and pretty challenging responding to messages about such important topics--but I realized that maybe I have gotten these messages because I choose to share the breakthrough and I don't choose to share the messy, in-between, chaotic and confusing moments enough. What if people knew that 9 times out of 10, most of my responses to the hard topics I mentioned above are "I have no idea?" and "Have you tried punching something?" Because it feels like the more I experience and the more I walk through grief and healing and adoption, the less I actually feel that I know.

I do realize there is value in the fact that I've physically walked through/am walking through the topics I just listed, and that in and of itself provides some sort of connection between myself and others in the same boat..and for that I am grateful, because I have met some of the most inspiring, incredible people through the difficulty of these circumstances, but when it comes down to it--it's all so incredibly difficult and I definitely do not want to be the poster child for handling it all well. I'd rather be an example of what it looks to just keep breathing through it all because that's a much better example of what it's actually like.

In my conversations with others, specifically about infant loss, I find that we're really all the same. We grieve differently and we celebrate our deceased children differently and we parent differently and we operate in marriage-after-loss differently, but we're all hoping to feel "normal" again and we're all hoping that both the good and the bad in us are accepted and we're all hoping that there are better things ahead of us. And we're definitely all waiting for the other shoe to drop...again..and trying desperately not to live in fear. If we're Believers, we've got the right answers when it comes to fear and we definitely have the right answers when it comes to the hope of eternity with Jesus, but the way those truths work themselves out inside of our heads and hearts is a whole different story.

So, basically, I'm here to tell you that I think about a lot of things. I think about my daughters daily. I think about delivering them and watching them leave. I daydream about healthy pregnancy and pleasant ultrasounds and childbirth the way it was meant to be. I think about race and equality and the impact society will have on my son as he navigates the world with a different skin color than his parents. I think about how my wedding day and how we had absolutely no idea what we meant when we said we would stand alongside each other through every hardship, and how it doesn't make sense that we are stronger after tragedy than we were before we knew what the valley looked like. In the same breath I long for the days where we didn't know the loss we now know, and I think about how I used to be carefree, starry eyed, and ready to conquer all sorts of stuff. And then I think about how I'm glad I'm not carefree because with the tragedy comes the actual conquering.

There are just so many things and they run along through my mind without ever developing into a cohesive essay that I can plop into this space...They are just the patterns of thought of someone who has come to the realization that I clearly long for neatly wrapped, well thought out, revelatory conclusions, but the conclusion I seek is not coming yet. But it will.

For now, I am getting used to the idea that all of it- literally all of it, is a marathon...not a collection of short sprints with conclusive, measurable endings. And I have a few people in my life who see it ALL, long before the breakthrough (if that ever comes) who remind me of this truth. So here is your reminder: keep breathing, keep punching things (not people) if it helps, keep seeking truth [Jesus], and keep giving yourself grace in the frustrating, confusing, super-hard-part-of-the-marathon-when-you'd-rather-quit-or-at-least-take-a-super-long-nap.








Happy Birthday, Elsie.

One year. It seems like yesterday and it seems like an eternity ago all at the same time. This year was certainly easier than last year, but that doesn't say much when you really know how devastating a year ago was. It's beyond difficult to wake up knowing you should be decorating for a birthday party, but instead you have memories of a funeral. I would give anything to kiss your sweet face again, my girl, but your big sister will have to do that for me until we meet again. These birthdays and holidays come and go, and they pierce the deepest part of my heart with longing. Nothing about missing the two of you is fair in the least. Shepherd has brought joy upon joy to us this year and for that I am more thankful than ever..especially on days like today, but I know life would be even sweeter with my little one year old and big two and a half year old running around here too. It's early and I am going to sleep because this day simply needs to be done, but I will fall asleep remembering the hope of life and gift of salvation--even when the rest of my thoughts are full of anger and sadness, and when my heart continues to feel as though it's missing two gigantic pieces....because it is.

I love you, Elsiebear.




Over Half A Year


Shepherd, how are you already 7 and a half months old?

I love watching you grow and I love watching you learn, but I am oh so grateful to see each and every stage and to soak in these fleeting baby days. I get teary eyed when you try so hard to crawl. I cherish the time I get to hold you and feed you, and change you and dress you. If there is one thing I want to say about your childhood, it's that I soaked in every bit of it. The easy seasons, the hard seasons, the teething seasons, the giggly seasons, and the tantrum seasons. Every single bit of it is a gift that was robbed from us twice. And YOU are the most wonderful fulfillment of promise.

I know one day soon you won't need me to feed you in the middle of the night.
I'm sure I won't complain about getting a full night of sleep, but my heart won't forget all of the times I fed you in the middle of the night with teary eyes of joy because of how deeply I love being your mama and how thankful I am that you came to us when you did. 
I know you won't always need me to change you and you'll be so proud to pick out your clothes all by yourself..but for now, I am so extremely happy that these little things are a part of my every day.

So now, as you continue to grow and learn and develop your lovable, crazy, sweet personality..I'll be right next to you- ever grateful, ever teary eyed, and with a very very full heart. I love you, my 7 month old teething, yelling, laughing, rolling, jumping, kissable little treasure.


about

We met in the fall of 2008 when I transferred to Clemson where Chris was already attending college. I was assigned to on-campus housing right next door to Chris, so we met and became friends right away! We both dated other people and never had any interest in one another romantically, so it gave us the chance to get to know each other as friends with no hidden agendas and no trying to impress one another. This is one of my favorite things about our story, because it made our transition into dating SO fast and easy. We had know idea that one short year later we would fall in love so quickly. We were both recovering from over-the-summer breakups, and we had already decided during the previous year to sign up to be neighbors again (collectively, with our roommates!) As the new school year began, we found ourselves bonding over conversations we had never really talked about before; conversations about relationships, and subsequently, conversations about what we both desired in a future spouse. 

We each began to see each other in a new light as we recognized that our hearts really lined up perfectly in regards to our hopes and dreams for the future and in how we operate in relationship with one another. Our feelings for one another came on unexpectedly and at the same time, but we were both scared to tell each other because we had been friends for so long that we were worried the feelings weren't mutual. We had been spending a lot of one on one time together and it was getting to the point where we both could tell we needed to have a conversation. One night, after we watched a movie together, I awkwardly asked him if we could talk. He immediately responded as if he had been thinking the same thing for a while. I was so incredibly scared that he was going to tell me he was sorry for leading me to believe he had feelings for me. I knew I would be crushed, which was still so mind-blowing because we were seriously the most platonic of friends mere months prior!

I was relieved to find out that Chris did have feelings for me, and I quickly reciprocated so he would know I felt the same. We spent a couple hours talking about what a relationship together might look like, and at the end of the conversation Chris asked me to be his girlfriend.

I had a feeling he was going to try to kiss me, and that made me the most nervous of all. I nervously feared that we would kiss and feel nothing, and that this all would have been a huge, confusing mistake. He leaned in and kissed me, and I literally could not stop smiling. In fact, it was so embarrassing that Chris stopped trying because he could only manage to kiss my teeth because of my huge grin! I was mortified, but the happiest I had ever been! We laughed it off and called it a night, and we went on our "official" first date the next night. I managed to give him a proper kiss that night and I was relieved to find that we had some major chemistry. :) Ha!

It was 9 months later that he proposed, and 8 months after that that we got married. He truly is my best friend and my better half. We never could have imagined that our vows of "in sickness and in health" would be tested so quickly into our marriage as we walked through two full term, traumatic pregnancies, resulting in the death of our two sweet daughters. You can read about those journeys in the Ellie and Elsie pages of this blog.

From the very beginning of our dating relationship, we knew we would adopt. We couldn't wait for it. We talked about it so frequently. We always imagined having biological and adoptive children, we just never though our adoption journey would begin out of such grief and despair. But it did, and four short months after the loss of our second child, sweet Shepherd Zion was brought to our arms. His adoption story can also be found in the blog!

We don't have it all together, and we never imagined that our lives would look the way they do now, especially just four short years into marriage. What we do know, is that our life would look SO incredibly different had we walked through all of this without Jesus, and without the hope and promise of true life. We hope that this journal will serve as our "stone pile" that we can look back on year after year and remember how the Lord saw us and healed us and blessed us. 

Thanks for taking a small peek into our lives. We hope you leave this little space of the internet feeling encouraged to press on through whatever hard thing you might be facing, or just to feel grateful if things are going well. More than anything, we hope that our words always remain a genuine reflection of our hearts--the good, the messy, and the ever-imperfect.




elsie's story


Elsie is our second child. Our first, Ellie, was born last June (2013) with some sort of illness that allowed me to carry her all the way to term..but caused her to pass away about 30 minutes after birth. The doctors were sure that this was an anomaly and would not occur again, so we prayerfully got pregnant nine months later. At our 20 week ultrasound, we found out that it appears Elsie has the same thing. We will not terminate, but are determined to pray for her and carry her just as we did Ellie. Please check back for how you can be praying for us, and feel free to share this page with others who might want to pray.

Finding Out. 8.7

Mercy 8.10

Pray for Sleep 8.11

Trials 8.14 

How You Can Pray 

On Earth as it is in Heaven 

Appointment Wednesday

Fast and Pray on Wednesdays 

7 Weeks Left 

4 Weeks Left 

19 days. No Fear. 

Five 

Elsie's Birth Story 

Our Adoption Fundraiser 






contact

Questions? Comments? Encouragement? I love getting emails from you all. Feel free to reach me at 
jordanAtate@gmail.com
and find me on instagram at "tateylove."

I am not an avid facebook user, so if you have something urgent, hit me up by email rather than facebook messenger/posts. :)