Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blessed

After realizing a couple weeks ago that there was a possibility we could be matched in a short period of time, Jarrod and I knew that we needed to take some immediate steps of faith to put ourselves in a position of being as prepared as possible for the moment when we are chosen to be the parents of who will be our baby

With only one week of planning, today we celebrated our adoption with a lasagna dinner immediately following our church's two morning services. 







We were incredibly blessed to have every single lasagna, salad, dressing, piece of garlic bread and cookie donated by so many amazing individuals. We were fully prepared to purchase any ingredients needed to make this happen so quickly and I don't think we spent over $10 ... BLESSED.






We were blessed to have so many dedicated volunteers to help pull the dinner together over the passed few days by preparing the food, serving and cleaning up. I was even able to go into the service this morning and spend a little time singing praises to our faithful God before I started serving everyone that came ... BLESSED.







We were blessed to have over 200 people come out and share in a meal while honoring the eventual homecoming of Baby Stichter. Jarrod and I were able to share our story of God's faithfulness to so many people that were willing to share in our excitement and offer up prayers with us that the time will be coming soon ... BLESSED.









More than anything today we have realized that, no matter how long we wait to be chosen by birth parents or how long it may take for our baby to arrive, we are so incredibly blessed by everyone around us. When the Lord called us to the journey of adoption, we knew that He would not leave us alone during the process... But we never expected the support that we have received from our friends and family during this time. The Lord has truly blessed us with our supporters!




Thank you to those that came out today. Thank you to those that helped in any way, whether through a donation, making food, or cleaning up. Thank you to those that couldn't come today but that covered our day in prayer. Thank you for everyone's prayers in this process. We cannot wait to celebrate the coming home of our child with you. Now we continue to pray and wait for God's timing on that.


All in all we have been so blessed by so many people and we pray that the Lord blesses those that have blessed us in such remarkable ways.




We are blessed. I cannot say it enough.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lasagna Dinner

If you've been following the past few posts of this blog, you know that Jarrod and I have realized that we could be matched any day to a baby. As you know, we are currently about $15,000 short of our current goal. Therefore, we are doing a last minute fundraiser to help us be as prepared as possible for the moment when we are matched!




Come join us THIS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at Park Hills Church (2525 W. Stephenson Street, Freeport, IL) for a delicious lasagna dinner. 100% of the proceeds will go towards our adoption fund!


PAY AT THE DOOR:

$10 Adult
$5 Kids
OR $30 for your ENTIRE Immediate Family

We will be serving lasagna, salad, garlic bread and cookies. Come and go as you need!


If you're not able to join us this Sunday, we are still looking for individuals to get involved in our "Help Bring Baby Stichter Home Challenge". As mentioned in a previous post we are asking 200 people if they would be willing to get involved in our adoption by donating $50 each. This would help meet an incredible need with our adoption and get us very close to our goal. If you're interested in checking this out, visit www.stichterchallenge.eventbrite.com.


We humbly thank you for your willingness to consider supporting us either by coming out to eat this Sunday or by joining our challenge! Your prayers and support mean more than we can possibly describe!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The 'Two Week Wait'

Disclaimer: My goal in this blog from the very beginning was that I was committed to being honest about every step of the adoption process and the feelings that accompany each step. This post is honest and real...

I almost laughed a little when I titled this post. Most women would recognize the phrase 'two week wait' as the phrase referring to the dreaded season of trying to conceive between the time that a woman ovulates until she can begin to test to see if she's pregnant. It's truly a dreaded season, especially if you've been trying for a while... However, I've recently become acquainted with a much worse version of waiting. 


Now that we are licensed, our work is ‘done.’ As mentioned in my previous post, now we have the “joy” of sitting back and waiting to be matched to the right baby, the right family, the ‘right’…everything.

In my last post I also mentioned that before Jarrod and I were even officially licensed we were approached about 3 different birth family situations that we could choose to present our profile book to. That number has grown even more still and we are still praying through what those specific situations look like for us and whether they are ‘right’ for our family. And I’ll tell you that these are not easy decisions. In fact, these decisions and this time in our adoption has been weighing very heavily on me since last Monday.


During this time, I know that God's already got our baby set aside for us and, not for one moment, do I doubt that. But there are still so many emotions involved in the waiting, the hoping, the dreaming... It's almost impossible to separate yourself from the thought. Or at least it is for me...


And although this part of the journey is a whole new type of waiting, I will wait because, whenever we are matched to our baby, it will be worth every second of this wait. Yes...this ‘waiting’ feeling is much worse than waiting two weeks to pee on a stick and then not having those two magical pink lines appear. At least in my world, this waiting is much worse.


I'm not sure that I've felt this much anxiety in my life in a long time...or maybe even ever. It's a strange feeling knowing that Jarrod and I have the opportunity to choose to let someone else see a glimpse of our lives through our profile book. And then that someone else will look at our faces and our lives in a book and, based on that book, will decide if they want us to parent their baby. There's something a little nerve-wrecking about that thought.


I've been trying to pinpoint why I think it's so much worse and why I've been feeling so much tension, stress, etc. during this wait. Last night it finally dawned on me. I suppose this seems like a no-brainer in the world of adoption, but, honestly, it never crossed my mind in this capacity until now: My ability to become a mom is lying in someone else's hands. My ability to eventually hear the little pitter-patter of feet across my floor is resting in the depths of someone else's decision.

...This fact is hard for me. It opens up wounds and insecurities that I thought I had dealt with some time ago in highschool... It makes me ask questions like 'Am I good enough for someone to choose me?' 'What if they don't like me?' 'What, about me, wouldn't they like?' 'Am I not pretty enough?' 'Does our life look boring?' 'Are we not 'cool' enough?' 'What happens if we make the wrong decisions?' 'Am I second best to someone else?' These are difficult questions that are beginning to surface for me and, honestly, I'm struggling through them in a way that I haven't had to before.


For the past two weeks, I have wanted to hide under my covers and not come out until I know that someone’s deemed us ‘worthy’. I've been excited and scared, bold and hesitant, faithful and faithless.

How do I balance these questions?
How do I balance these resurfacing insecurities?
How do I balance my role in all of this?

This 'two week wait'...whether it's actually two weeks or not... is surely a test of faith for me. I'm not giving up, but I'm walking this path slower than before. Each step feels a little heavier and loses a little bit of its bounce. I'm treading carefully now because…well…I'm scared. My heart is really on the line now and it's almost completely impossible to protect it from here on out.

I keep thinking, "Can I do this? Can we get through this wait?" I know we can. But I'm realizing more and more each day in this process that we, that I, cannot do it alone and that God definitely has to have a purpose for this time.

Today as I was in the middle of writing this post, I found this quote and I think it's the perfect resolution to my very real and personal thoughts today, so I will share it. Surely God knows why we wait and He has a plan.... I'm choosing, although it hurts sometimes, to continue to cling to that promise.


Friday, February 7, 2014

What Now?

FRIDAY WAS THE DAY!

FRIDAY WAS THE DAY!


FRIDAY WAS....

THE.

DAY.


As of Friday, February 7, 2014, Jarrod and I are officially licensed by the state of Illinois to adopt! I have been waiting for this day for what feels like forever, but we are finally here! Hallelujah! God is good!

In the past few days I've been asked several times, "Now what?"

Ha...the answer? Now the real fun begins. Now we pray for a match and wait for God's provision.

It has been an exciting week in our world nonetheless. Even before Friday, before our official licensed date, we have already been approached about three possible birth families to present to! We are fervently praying through presenting to these families and asking for the Lord's guidance in these situations. But what this has communicated to us is that it could be a very short period of time before we are matched to our baby. We will let our yes be yes when we choose to present but we understand that it doesn't matter what we say. Instead, we need to be willing to let the Lord lead us to our baby, whether that baby will come in 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years.

What this all means is that any day we could have the potential to present to a birth family for a potential match and we need to be prepared as we possibly can be in case we are chosen.

So, what does all of this mean? What is presenting? How can you be as prepared as possible? Let me answer some 'frequently asked questions' for you at this point in our process.

"What does it mean to present? Do you actually go 'present' to them?"

Well, no. When you are adopting domestically, you create what's called a 'profile' book. Basically this is scrapbook of our life. It outlines how we met, why we are adopting, what Jarrod thinks about me, what I think about him, what our home and community is like, etc. When a potential match is shown to us, we can choose to 'present' to the birth family. This means that the adoption agency working with the birth family shows them 3-5 profiles and then the birth family chooses an adoptive family based on the profile books. So, no. We do not go present to them in person. Instead, we have the option to say 'yes' to a potential situation and agree to present and then we wait to hear the decision. It is all, entirely, an act of faith.

"What happens once you're chosen/matched?"

Once we are matched, I will cry tears of joy for days.... Just kidding (although I'm pretty sure I'll do that too)! Once a birth family chooses us, we officially accept the match and begin working out the details of the adoption with the agency and birth family, this includes travel plans, openness arrangements, birth/hospital arrangements, etc. Depending on the due date of the baby and the desires of the birth family, Jarrod and I would love the opportunity to travel to meet the birth family prior to the birth.

"What happens when the baby is born?"

Each state has different laws for how the adoption works once the baby is born. There is usually a waiting period between the time that the baby is born and the time that the birth parents can sign the papers relinquishing parental rights to the adoptive family. In Illinois there is a 72 hour waiting period, but, as I mentioned earlier, each state has a different law and this time period can vary. The consulting agency that we are working with directs adoptive families toward 'adoption friendly' states where this wait period is minimal (usually 24-48 hours).  Once these papers have been signed the adoption is irrevocable and the baby is legally ours.

As far as the birth arrangements for the baby, it is entirely based on the desires of the birth mom. She may desire to have one of us in the delivery room with her or she may choose to be by herself in the hospital with the baby until the papers are signed. Jarrod and I are okay with either and want to be respect of the wishes of the sweet birth mother who blesses us with her sweet, sweet baby.

Once the relinquishment papers have been signed and after the baby has been released from the hospital, we will need to wait approximately 7-10 days to be cleared by ICPC (interstate compact for the placement of children) to travel out of the birth state and back to our home state. This means that, in all reality, we have the possibility to be in the birth state 2-4 weeks until we are able to come home.

"How can you be as prepared as possible to be matched?"

As I mentioned before, Jarrod and I were not expecting birth family situations to be presented to us this soon. However, we are thrilled and quickly realizing that a lot of things that need to fall into place for us to be able to accept a match. The most important piece of this 'preparedness' puzzle is the finances. Once we are matched with a birth family, 100% of the adoption costs are due within 7-14 days of the match. Currently, after all we've saved, already raised, and a loan, we are about $15,000 short of our goal to be matched and to be able to pay in full. The reality is that finances are the number one way that we need help right now to be prepared to be matched. Once we are matched and have met our financial goal, we will then need to finish preparing with all the essential baby items (diapers, wipes, etc).

With that in mind, we are humbly asking and presenting our supporters with a challenge. We are humbly asking 200 people to donate $50 each towards our adoption. If we can meet this goal, we would be able to supply a large part of the remainder needed for our adoption. Although please hear me say that if $50 is too much, any amount will make the biggest difference in our adoption right now. We have created a way for you to get involved in this challenge online. Just head on over to http://stichterchallenge.eventbrite.com  to get involved. (Or use the orange button on the right side bar of this blog to navigate to the donation page).


Now that all of that is out there, let me say this. We are so excited to where the Lord is leading us and we are so excited to think that it could be any day that we get a call about our baby. We are trusting the Lord's guidance in this and trusting that he will lead us and help provide the financials to get this process completed. My stomach feels like it's in constant angst right now with all that I know that needs to get done and all the money that we need to complete all of this...This is a huge leap of faith but God has brought us this far already and we are trusting him.

The Lord gives us peace and is on our side. My prayer tonight is that you would let the Lord be on your side. Would you consider praying for our baby, for our hearts as we wait now to be matched, for your involvement and if you would consider joining our challenge to find 200 individuals willing to donate $50. Would you just consider letting the Lord move your heart towards how you can be involved in adoption? I ever so humbly, without one ounce of pride, just ask that you open your heart and let God direct you in your involvement. For that I would be SO grateful!

God is GOOD..... and He will provide. He WILL provide. It's in HIS hands.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Already in my Heart

Disclaimer: I wrote this post four days ago on Friday, January 31, 2014... Sorry for the delay in actually getting it posted!

About six hours ago, Jarrod and I pulled into the parking lot of the Comfort Inn in Steven's Point, Wisconsin. Jarrod came for a meeting and I was invited to come along for the drive, the fellowship, and the hotel room. I am not usually one to want to sit in a confined hotel room for hours on end. I'd much rather be at home in my own personal, cozy space with all my own things within my reach. But honestly, ever since the day that I decided to come with Jarrod, I have been looking forward to nothing but being in this hotel room. I honestly just needed an escape from my routine, my home, my cell phone, and so many other things. So, while he's in meetings, I'm retreating and rejuvenating...and sleeping. I've already done a lot of sleeping.


Although I'm not quite sure exactly why this mini retreat was needed, I'm working on processing through it. Part of it is that one 'season' of our life is coming to end while another season, with its own unique set of challenges, is rapidly approaching:


You see, it is with great excitement that I can announce that Jarrod and I have officially completed our home study and will have a copy of our state-issued license to adopt very shortly. This officially means that no matter when God decides to bring that baby to our door step, we will be ready to go. 


If you remember from my last post, this is a big deal. We have been waiting for what seemed like decades (yes, I'm obviously exaggerating) for our fingerprints to come back and to complete the final steps of this process. After many, many nights of prayer for our fingerprints to come back to our agency, I received a text from our social worker on Tuesday letting us know that we were FBI cleared! (Insert little happy dance here)


Then on Wednesday evening we had a conference call with our social worker to read through the details of our adoption license through the state of Illinois and all the legalities that we were agreeing to. All we wait for now is for the license to be issued, which will be done by February 7, 2014, and for our social worker to type up the written report of our home study process. We will use this document to officially send in our applications and family profile books to the agencies that we are planning to work with.


This is a really exciting step for us! After six months of waiting, we are just days away from putting several large application packets in the mail and closing this chapter of our adoption story.


Now we start a new chapter: letting the agencies and our consultant work from here to match us to a birth family. 


Tonight, as I stood in target and fingered the detailed threading on a beautiful little newborn onesie, I couldn't help but wonder how long it would be until I would get to purchase items like that one for our baby. It could be a matter of a few short days or we could wait another year or more. I have no idea.... Yet God does.


I know that this will be the time that could be the most trying on me because once those packets are mailed, this isn't too much more that we can do to 'speed up the process' except to pray. At that point, I have to put my trust in God's timing every second of the day. Sometimes this is a day-by-day process for me. Other days, it's an hour-by-hour process. And other days, it's a second-by-second process in which I have to continually relearn how to leave my concern and fears and desires and God's feet and let him to do the rest. 


For my birthday this year, the day of our last adoption training class, Jarrod bought me the perfect birthday gift. It's a simple, sterling silver necklace with two charms. One charm is a heart and the other is a circle. Engraved on it, it says, "Already in my heart, Someday in my arms." (see picture below)





Almost four months after getting this gift, it hasn't left my neck for barely one day. On a daily basis, I rub that necklace and I'm reminded that someday our child will be in our arms. But our child truly is already in our hearts. I feel like, in the past few days, with the ending of this chapter, this statement has become even more real. Our 'someday' ...how ever far away it may be... is one step and one day closer every single day.