Well, Hello There!

Long time, no see!

I want to take a second to just say THANK YOU.  To all of you that have unconditionally supported – and continue to support – us through all the trials we’ve faced in the last 4-5 years.  It’s certainly been a roller coaster and we could NOT have made it through without the love, prayers, and encouragement that we have received.

I’ve not shared much of what happened on our adoption journey and I guess it was mostly because – for a while – we were just waiting.  While we were waiting, one of my tasks was to create a book that our adoption agent could use to show to prospective birth families.  It was supposed to have pictures of us, stories about us, where we live, grew up, what we like to do for fun, etc.

Folks, let me tell you – that book was HARD.

You know how movies have previews?  And it’s basically the highest/funniest points of the movie shown?  The ones that really sell you on the movie and make you say ” I HAVE to see that!”?  I kinda felt like that’s what we were doing.  I know it sounds a little taboo to say that we were ‘selling’ ourselves, but it felt that way.  I felt like we needed to find the best pictures and the best stories so that we’d really catch someone’s eye.  And the more I worked on the book, the more my emotions started building.

My emotions were already crazy heightened (I’m sure my husband would be happy to vouch for that), but this seemed to tip me right over the edge.  Aside from all of the obvious unfairness about adoption – birthmothers placing their children, adoption agencies making so much dang money, etc. – it did NOT feel fair that someone else got to choose if and when we got to be parents based on whether or not they liked our book.

If you know me, you know that I’ve struggled with deep, dark depression for many years.  I fought that darkness for so long while dealing with treatments and miscarriages, but all of a sudden, the perfect storm converged and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

Being a mother is something that I have longed for as far back as I can remember.  And after getting married, being a parent became a shared dream.  Never would I have thought it would stay a dream.

We fought long and hard to reach our goal.  We gladly gave up a lot of things and cut back on so many more to save everything we could.  We were asked by so many amazing people how they could help, so we reached out to all of you and you stepped up in ways we never could have imagined.  All of your donations got us SO MUCH FURTHER than we ever could have gotten alone.  And we could never fully thank all of you properly.

But as I started looking at our life, I realized that – even though the cost of adoption was high, the price we were paying through health and our marriage was even higher.

J was working two jobs (still is) and I was stretched so thin emotionally, that it started manifesting itself physically.  After talking (A LOT), praying (A LOT), crying (just me but A LOT), and realizing that we’d exhausted our donations and funds towards the adoption, we decided that we were going to just take a step back.

From the day we got married, we were so focused on starting a family that we forgot to recognize that we already WERE one.

So, that’s where we are now.  We’ve put adoption on hold and are spending time learning how to just be who we are instead of stressing over who we could be.

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2014 in review

What an awesome feature!! Thank you to all of you who read and interact and pray and support!!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2014 – 1, Me – 0

I know I’m not the only one that is glad that 2014 is OVER.  It was a rough year!

The last couple months were especially rough.  Not just because of the holidays.

We hadn’t told anyone, but we had been approached with a private adoption situation and were OVER THE MOON about it!  It seemed that we were FINALLY going to be parents!  We learned early last month that that possibility was gone.  It was very heartbreaking.  You don’t realize how invested your heart becomes so quickly.

I’ve been fighting off depression pretty badly.  Some days, it seems like I’m winning the battle.  Other days, it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel is barely flickering.  My husband has been so patient and loving with me.  I’m not entirely sure how he puts up with me sometimes.  Of course, I put up with him, too so I guess we’re even!  Well, that and he’s working a second job so I think that helps, too!

With J working a second job, I spend quite a bit of time alone.  It’s not always so bad, but I do get pretty lonely.  He’s been saying that I need to find something to do when he’s not here and because a lot of my depression (I think) comes from hating my body so much, I have decided that going to the gym is the perfect answer!  I find a hobby AND I can get in shape while doing it!  Talk about a WIN-WIN!!  (And NO, it’s NOT a New Years resolution!!)

I blame a lot of the extra weight I’m carrying on the fertility meds that I took for our IUI’s, but having a somewhat sedentary job and not doing much physical activity when I’m at home certainly hasn’t helped that!

I’m a little afraid to share with the world that I need to lose weight, but let’s face it, anyone that looks at me knows that’s no secret!  And the reason that I’m telling the world – well, the part of the world that reads this and actually cares – is because part of the battle is admitting weakness.  And the other part is accountability.

I am making a valiant effort to kick 2015’s butt and not the other way around!!

Also, if you follow me on Instagram or we are friends on Facebook, I have been participating in a really neat 60-day challenge that has been designed to let people in on our lives and get to know us better.  Here is the list of pictures that I will be sharing!

hopingtoadopt60days

This is in the hopes that through word-of-mouth we may be able to find the perfect match to help complete our family!  If you’re interested in following, you can “like” our Facebook page “Bringing Home Munchkin McNabb” or follow me on Instagram – @neeners079!!  It’s been a lot of fun so far!

Hope to see you there!

My Grown-Up Christmas List

It used to be that I REFUSED to put up my tree or ANY kind of Christmas decoration until the day after Thanksgiving.  Actually, it was ON Thanksgiving.

After I’d eaten (and then napped), on went the Christmas music, out came the decorations, and down went the Frothy Eggnog.  (Yes, I said Frothy.  It’s eggnog, rum and ice all mixed in a blender.)

I’d start with the Christmas village, and then moved forward with the rest of the decorations.  I’ve ALWAYS had an obsession with Christmas villages.  I LOVE them!

I love to sit and look down at them and imagine all the goings-on that are happening in the tiny little town.

Children giggling in bed until all hours.  Peeking down the stairs when they hear the floors creak.  Waking up before the sun to beg mom and dad to let them check out their stockings and open presents.

About 10 years ago or so, I found little ceramic houses.  I bought one thinking it would be good to help pass the time and little did I know that 10 years later I would still be collecting them and painting them one-by-one.

One painstaking, detail-oriented, OCD-in-full-effect house at a time.  Here’s a sneak-peek at a few of them!

They all start out like this!

They all start out like this!

IMG_4052 IMG_4051 IMG_4050

And then I add the details!

And then I add the details!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

I think of those little houses like us.  Blank as can be, and then God fills in all the tiny little details – right down to the number of hairs on our head.

I found that when I got out on my own, my traditions changed.

My husband and I started our own traditions 7 years ago – it all started with a tree.  And it hasn’t changed since.  (It almost ended with a tree too, but that’s a WHOLE other story!)

The holidays have been kind of rough the last couple years.  I’ve always looked forward to the holidays with children.  While it’s not at all impossible for adults to enjoy Christmas without kids (side note: people who think it is are on my list of people I don’t want to hear comments from.  ever.)  I had just always dreamed about wrapping presents and filling stockings for our kids.  I had even hoped I would be able to do a creative, fun pregnancy announcement for the holidays!  But the last couple years, I haven’t much wanted to participate.

This year…  this year is different.  There’s a new sense of cautious optimism.  A tentative joy.  A watchful hope.

J and I have been ensconced in the process of adoption…  mountains of paperwork and doctor’s appointments and reference letters and background checks.  It’s seriously a LOT of work!

Part of all the paperwork are a LARGE list of questions that J and I have to answer separately.  Questions about the other.  Questions about ourselves.

Me being COMPLETELY OCD couldn’t just leave the answers in our own handwriting – noooooooo.  I had to type them up and then highlight my name in pink and his in blue for our respective answers.  (DON’T JUDGE.)

I answered my questions on my own and had J do the same.  As I was reading through his answers and typing them out – through tears – I realized something.

INFERTILITY SUCKS.  But if it weren’t for this trial, and for the amazing blessing we are preparing to receive, we would probably have never asked each other a lot of the questions.

  • Describe your personality
  • Describe your spouse’s personality
  • What’s your biggest strength/weakness?
  • What’s your spouse’s biggest strength/weakness?
  • What makes your marriage strong?
  • Describe your happiest/worst childhood memory

How many of you can tell me what your spouse’s favorite childhood memory is?

It sure does wake something up inside of you when you hear your biggest strength and weakness in someone else’s voice.  And it certainly does something to your self-esteem when you see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

I try SO HARD to be grateful for every situation we face.  Some days I fail.  Other days I fail MISERABLY.  Other days, I can almost feel the silver lining.  But I am SO GRATEFUL that I was able to learn those things!!

This year, as I was decorating our tree, the song “My Grown-Up Christmas List” sang by Michael Bublé came on.  And as he sang about wishing for no more lives torn apart, no war, time healing all hearts, everyone having a friend and love never ending, I wanted to write my own lyrics to the song, but my rhyming skills are SERIOUSLY lacking.

As I’ve grown older, my list has gotten smaller.  I’d like to say that the things I want can’t be bought, but as we all in the infertility world know, unfortunately they really CAN put a price on a child.

But they can’t put a price on happiness.

And after I finish my Grown-Up Christmas List, I won’t be sitting on any laps to tell what it is…  No, I’ll be reading it on my knees. 

The Priceless Cost

Have you ever thought about the word ‘just’?  I think people use it too flippantly these days.  It’s used as an answer to almost every solution.  Here is a list of my favorite ‘just’ solutions for infertility:

  • ‘Just relax’ (been there)
  • ‘Just let go/don’t stress/don’t think about it’ (done that)
  • ‘Just drink a bottle of wine’ (drank LOTS of that)
  • ‘Just try artificial insemination/IVF’ (yup, done some of that, too)
  • ‘Just adopt’

Here’s my little nugget of wisdom.  Get a pen and a piece of paper and take notes…  Go ahead, I’ll wait.   Ready?

There is no ‘just’ about anything that has to do with any painful situation.

Any situation where a decision needs to be made that could significantly alter the outcome of an original perception requires intense discussion, pondering and most importantly, prayer.

As most of the people in our lives know (and heck, any stranger who will listen), J and I are in the process of adoption.  After our unsuccessful battle with infertility, we did some soul-searching and praying and decided that it wasn’t as important for us to be pregnant as it was for us to be parents.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  In 1976 in Massachusetts, Governor Mike Dukakis proclaimed National Adoption Week.  President Gerald Ford made the first National Adoption Week proclamation and in 1990, the week was extended to a month due to the excitement and participation by so many people and states.  There’s even one day of the month that is proclaimed as National Adoption Day and many adoptions are finalized all at the same time!  I just think that’s neat!

I have been criticized VERY harshly in the last couple days about the way I see adoption (as an amazing blessing), even to the point where I was told that I don’t deserve to have children and that me not being able to get pregnant must have been God’s way of telling us that we shouldn’t be parents and that there is no way that I could ever love an adopted child unconditionally because we HAVE to adopt and not WANT to adopt due to infertility.

The “conversation” – a term I use VERY loosely as it was more just overly assertive, opinionated people trying to get everyone else to believe exactly the way that they do rather than hear what anyone else has to say – escalated very quickly and left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, scared, naïve and unprepared, to say the very least.

But as I remove myself from the “support group” – HA – that I got the criticism from, I realize that my opinion is just that.  MINE.

Every parent is frightened before they have their first child.  Ever parent wonders if they’ve screwed up monumentally along the way.  But every parent loves their child in an unconditional way that can’t be judged, deemed unworthy, viewed incorrectly or questioned by anyone else.

I say again:  Biology is the LEAST of what makes someone a parent!

I am beyond excited to meet the child that we will give a forever home to and love with every single nook and cranny of our hearts.  My heart pines and my arms ache for our child to come home.

To be woken repeatedly through the night to take care of someone who needs me.  To hear the pitter-patter of little feet.  To see daddy holding on to the bicycle seat while running alongside.  To wipe away tears after a broken heart.  To celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day from the inside.

And to the parents who love their child enough to make the painful, selfless decision to entrust them to us to love them enough for all of us, my heart will be eternally grateful.

We all have learning to do, growth to be made, challenges to be met, disappointments to face, joy to share…  And in this month of awareness, I know that I am learning and growing.  I’m facing challenges and disappointment.  But the joy that I will be able to share will be so worth it.

Home Study:  $1,500
Background Checks:  $250
Legal Fees:  Cost undetermined
Having a child to call our own:  Priceless

Strength from Our Struggles

When you first think about that statement, it seems crazy.  But when you really think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Weightlifters have to struggle through resistance to gain strength.  Kids have to struggle through falling off their bikes to gain the strength to get back on and try again.

Sometimes, facing our fears and weaknesses can become not only our biggest strength but a great testimony.

I’ve been through a LOT in my life.  A LOT.  A lot of struggles.  A lot of pain.  A lot of junk that I remember thinking “WHY ME?!”  And in the midst of those struggles, I used to hear from people “Someday, you will be able to use this to help someone else.”  **Cue the eye roll and whiny voice**  ” But whyyyyyy do I have to go through it at ALLLL?!”

temper tantrum

It’s a great sentiment to tell people that their struggles will be someone else’s strength some day.  I guess I just didn’t really stop to think about how it could actually be MY strength too.

I’ve been able to speak with young women who are in abusive relationships.  I’ve been able to talk to young women who struggle with being let down by someone who they’d placed on a pedestal.  I’ve been able to talk to women who are battling with the emotions that come with empty arms.

I’m still affected by all of those things.  Some days, it feels like the blind leading the blind.  But other days…  Oh, other days it feels like all the pain and tears and struggling were worth it just to feel that connection with someone who needed to not just hear the words “I know how you feel” but needed to actually FEEL that I know how they feel.

Tonight, I was sent a link to a sermon by an old friend of mine.  It’s from Elevation Church and a series called “How to be Brave”.  The one I listened to tonight was called “See It Through” and in it he says:

“What if God wants to show you your purpose, but He wants you to see it through your pain?”

Maybe I’m starting to see my purpose through my pain.

Do I still wish that I didn’t have to struggle?  Sure.  Do I still wish that God would lighten up with the trials already?  Of course.  Do I still wish that I didn’t have to feel the pain?  Absolutely.

But I am grateful for them.  My past has helped me create my present. 

If I’d not dealt with a LOT of the things I dealt with all those years ago, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now.  If I’d not dealt with cowering from a raised hand, I wouldn’t have learned how to defend myself.  If I’d not dealt with constant comparisons, I wouldn’t have learned how to place more worth in my opinion of myself.  If I’d not dealt with the pain of knowing what empty arms feel like, I may never have appreciated how the crook of my elbow might be the perfect pillow.

We grow through our pain.  We gain strength in our struggles.  We gain faith through fear.  And God knew that we would before we even dipped our toes in the pool of uncertainty.

Even now, J and I are facing a situation that we may be able to use to help others further down the road.  Oh, how I wish we weren’t facing it.  How I wish we knew what the outcome would be.  How I wish it didn’t hurt so much.

But oh, how it’s making us stronger.  How it’s making us dig in, dig deep and hold tightly.  To each other and to our faith.

Oh, how we are gaining strength from our struggle.

Thirty One!

Hi all!!

I know it’s been a LONG time since I’ve written anything! SORRY! I’ll share all about what’s going on soon, I hope!

BUT!! We’ve got another fundraiser in progress!!

If you – or any women in your life – are fans of ThirtyOne purses, here’s a chance to get something cool AND help us out!!

Please visit www.mythirtyone.com/tatum. Select ‘My Scheduled Parties’ and then click ‘Shop Now’ beside the event name ‘Jon & Dacina {month} Fundraiser’!

Each month on the 1st, the event month will change, but the process of finding the event to shop under won’t! Orders can be placed online under the event each month until the 25th!

There’s LOTS of cool stuff on there, so GET SHOPPING!!!!

If you have any questions, you can email me at munchkinmcnabb@gmail.com!