{depression, lovely clefts and the ultimate Love}

it's been a while coming, but i'd like to transverse the mountain of post adoption depression.
the more i've been honest about this season in my life, the more i'm finding other mom's who have been through something similar.

it must be said that i'm no expert. this is a subject that effects many people very differently. my experience deals deeply with the trauma of surgery...but i know for many others, their situations and feelings are different. i don't claim to know everything, but i feel compelled to share my story...even just to open the door of honesty.

as i've been healing, i realized how hard it is to be honest.
it takes courage i often don't have, and i felt raw and exposed when i first blogged about it.
like a failure. a big, fat looserish failure.

but there is something special about this thing called honesty.
honesty produces freedom because God can't heal what we don't admit is real.

i'll be the first to say our experience adopting Emery is better than i could have imagined.
we feel as though she's been here all along and i'll always post about the awesomeness.
the miracle of adoption.
she is a fantastic blessing and we marvel at the wonder that is Emery.
the happy posts aren't fake...they are the reason i love to blog so i can remember the beauty of our days amidst the chaos.
it's important to verify the honor that is motherhood.
to speak out against the negative and embrace this time of our life with joy, even when it's a downright exhausting day.

and it isn't always happy everything.
and amid the beauty and joy, i discovered a devastation that i never thought could happen to me.
i mistakenly thought i was too strong. too in control. too qualified to allow depression to sink into my joy.
boy oh boy, what an arrogant person to think i could overcome something i can't control.
{you can read what i wrote in the thick of my despair here}

it's brutal. horrible. and unlike anything i've ever experienced.
you can't just snap out of it. 
it needs to be talked about.
it needs to be out there.
depression of any kind isn't something anyone likes to talk about, least of all me.
in fact, i think it needs to be a part of pre-adoption training, although i have no idea if that would have even helped.

** there is also something serious to be said about the spiritual warfare involved with adoption. a child being brought home to their family isn't something the enemy wants to happen. i believe much of what i experienced was the onslaught of defeat and inability to rely on God's protection and security. it was only after intense prayer (on my behalf by close friends/family) and reading over and over God's Word that i began to walk slowly out of the fog.

i can clearly identify the snapping point in my emotional state.
it was more than the "after the airport" - (best article for post-adoptive families, or anyone in recent transition)
it happened alongside of emery's first surgery in september 2011 and the weeks of intense recovery that followed.
(read  here , here and here to catch a glimpse)

they told me it would be really brutal to see her come out of anesthesia. they weren't kidding. it was more like a scene from alien than a recovery room. it wasn't the blood splattering the walls from her ripping out IV's or the stitches covering the inside of her mouth. it was her anguish. her torture. seeing the emotional toll it drained on her spirit to be confined. tied down. forced into something she didn't consent to. writhing in pain and confusion.
the screaming and anguish continue for hours. then days. then weeks. even oxycontin and morphine couldn't touch the pain deep within her soul.

i realized just how deeply she was scarred from her life before us. how painful it was for her to relive the feelings of being alone and her inability to receive comfort.
my insides hurt just remembering it.

it changed me. i became bitter and angry. furious that we had to repair what was already beautiful.

she had already been abandoned at birth. passed around by caregivers. strapped to a chair for so long that the straps dug deep scars into her back and chest. starved when she was clearly able to eat. igrnored when she cried out in pain. left to spend hours on end alone on her back. taken away from her homeland by people speaking another language. given unfamiliar food, crib, toys, clothes, smells.
and now, just when our relationship feels settled and trustworthy, i hold her as she flails and screams, and i can't take the pain away.

emery seemed to heal faster than i did. after a month of tears and screaming and night terrors, her stitches dissolved and her scars healed.

trying to decipher why i couldn't let go of the anger and loneliness.

when we said goodbye to her cleft in december 2011, i hit an all time low.
(you can read about it here, here

i grieved deeply the loss of how she was created, but i knew that most people didn't understand, so i couldn't talk about it. it sounds strange to miss a cleft lip.

if you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know i'm crazy in love with her new lips. she looks just as beautiful as always. she's an angel of perfection...we gawk at her constantly and marvel at the loveliness that is emery.
it's just that changing the original felt wrong. inconsiderate of the way God intended her to be. it literally felt painful to my soul.

i realize repairing a cleft is more than just cosmetic. the repair aids eating and dental structure and speech and breathing. ear tubes repair faulty ear drainage pathways.
i'm not saying i would have left her unrepaired. i'm not saying that.
actually i did say that to someone. and i got the look. and a very stern: "you're not serious, are you? you wouldn't really leave her like that? would you?"
and in my mind, i voraciously bit their head off. i screamed and yelled and said awful cuss words.
in my mind.
in real life, i smiled, and went about my day.
harboring deep anger at the world for not feeling what i feel.

i've since made peace with the world.
the anger has dissipated and i see freshly the love my Savior has for me, even in my heartache.
especially in my heartache.

my experience of dipping into the depths of my anger has brought new light on the fact that many people just don't know. they don't know that a cleft really isn't all that bad. in fact, it's quite charming.
i am reminded that i didn't know it either before i gazed into those deep dark eyes...felt her slender hands in mine...and kissed those little lippies so sweetly.

and after all is said and done, i've learned that God is present. walking in the depths with me.
a lesson worth any amount of anguish.

the truth is, you don't know know how this thing called adoption is going to effect you. your family. your marriage. the world around you.

it will be hard.
there will be challenges you've never faced as a parent or as a human.
you will learn things about yourself that you don't like.
you will love a child so much it hurts.
you might even feel so inadequate that you don't want to get out of bed in the morning.

if you are considering adoption, you need to know it will be hard. receiving a gift of this imeasurable magnitude cannot be met without challenges...or else it wouldn't be quite so valuable.

or, if you have friends who have adopted, you need to know their family is going through a major transition and odds are, they need you, even if you don't know how to help.

if you are considering adoption, you also need to know something else. 
it's crazy awesome. 
best decision i've ever made.
i'm willing to be honest about the hard times because i know they aren't what shines through at the end of the day.
when my baby girl wispers "mama, mama" with a smile as i rock her to sleep...any challenges we faced during the day don't exist anymore.
i'm her mama. plain and simple.

these children...born of our bodies or our hearts...they are powerful tools for God's purpose.
our calling as Moms and Dads is a high one, of which i am not worthy.

it's no wonder there is a spiritual battle over these little ones. each has a spirit of power, a God given soul impact on life. a power story of God's Love.

but we have to be willing to be honest about where we are.
honest with God, even when our honesty isn't pretty or even rational.
honest with each other instead of simply saying "i'm fine."
and honestly allowing our souls to accept the deep and wide Love of our Creator.

we walk this journey together, you and i.
God created us to connect and know we are in life together.
there is power in praying each other through hard times, walking the long road side by side, and trusting God to fulfill us when we can't take another step.

if someone is honest with you? you must be willing to see them with compassion and zero judgement.
this isn't a joke.
recovering when devastation hits is vital for our families, for our marriages, for our walks with Christ
and we are all a part of it.

whew. anyone with me?
can i get an amen?


eeek!! new family pics!! {and the story of our life}

i'm squealing with delight! we just got the proofs from the incredible Jensen Photography duo and as always, i love every single one! actually, i cried i was so happy :) there's nothing like a fantastic photo to get me all misty eyed!

the photos on my blog banner were taken by the Jensens two weeks after emery came home

{this photo makes my heart ache to know i'll never see her again as God created her. i wish i could jump back in time to this day...to kiss her sweet cleft lips just one more time. actually, no. once isn't enough. a million-zillion would work much better, thank you very much.}

looking back, our family feels brand new. emery looks minuscule and so very weak and small. it was long before the pain of surgery. long before we knew what a sweet and sassy gal we had. 
these photos are a treasure deep in my soul.

fast forward 9 months...

i'm not sure about you, but photos speak love to me. having a beautiful moment in time captured for our family and future generations...it might just be one of my favorite things in life.

i can feel who we are as a family. i remember my kids giggling and squirming and racing. the boys were kissing their sister over and over. they kept trying to hold her hands, and she was not in the mood.

in fact, our sweet little sassy-frass wasn't in the mood for smiling one bit. not only had i forgotten her shoes (frazzled much?), but i literally woke her up from her nap, put her in the car and threw her dress on only 10 minuets prior. she was more asleep than awake. 1 hour later (after the photo shoot) she was dancing and singing and gallivanting through the grass. good thing she's crazy cute, even when she doesn't feel like smiling :)

i was so frazzled getting us dressed and fed and out the door in time, i not only forgot missy's shoes, but i also forgot to feed everyone. at least i remembered all three children.

this is my favorite photo. ever.
check out his smile...and her gaze.
yeesh, i might tear up looking at it again.

you wouldn't know it from looking at these shots, but clint had the worst day at work...the worst in years. everything went wrong and he was exasperated and exhausted.  but somehow the hard day dissipated. maybe it was the grass under our feet or the kids laughter echoing around us.

perhaps there is something special about returning to the place you were married that sparks a spectacular evening.

we were wed at this same location 8 (or was it 9?) years ago in august. the sweetness of that day echoed as we walked and laughed with the kids. i couldn't help but smile to think of how young we were...how unknowing of the life that awaited us...and how fantastically full our lives would soon be. 

it was the perfect evening to be together

years from now i won't remember the forgotten shoes and clint won't remember the horrible day her had.

we'll look back and marvel at how small the kids were. how young we looked. how little emery's feet are. how simple life was. and i will always look back with great thankfulness at the gift of our family being documented.

cait and jeff...it's no wonder you are fantastically in demand.
you're quite dreamy :)


the day elmo hit my son in the head {with a hammer}

we are no strangers to the pound of a hammer.
we've gathered friends on several occasions for smash days and crushed everything in sight. we love to know the inner workings of everyday things and the boys love nothing more than smashing something to smithereens. (my all time favorite was the first smash day - read about it here)

but today...today, i tell a cautionary tale.
leave it to elmo to ruin all of our fun. (sorry world, i'm not an elmo fan)

during my pack-a-thon, i came across our only elmo item. gifted to foster as an infant, elmo got lots of love from both of my boys. i saved it for emery, thinking how cute it would be for her to play with the same toy her brothers did.
when elmo turned up broken out of storage, the boys agreed wholeheartedly that a smash day was in order.

right off the bat, we couldn't find daddy's hammer, and the screws were welded in. 

so we resorted to a shovel.

and tossing it from the top of the play house and whipping it across the yard...

we kicked it and smashed it.

turns out elmo is one tough dude.
who knew there was such a well made toy in all of the world?

we gave up, went in for dinner, and left elmo in a huff of frustration.

determined to prove that no toy can withstand a Weldon smash day, we headed out again after dinner, armed with daddy's hammer and the will of triumph.

no sooner had foster taken one swing, than the hammer backfired off of the elmo's tough-as-nails casing and the claw end of the hammer jumped back, directly into foster's forehead.

after inspecting my child's bleeding forehead wound, considering if he needed stitches or not, i vowed to throw elmo off of the empire state building and make him feel the pain. in the end he met a little friend named "the trash compactor", but not before i gave him one last swift kick. once again, elmo got the last laugh because i was wearing toms and nearly broke my toe. darn you elmo.

in the end, he didn't need stitches, but foster's forehead bore the imprint of a hammer claw for the better part of a week.

mom of the year, over here. mom of the year.
please award me with my trophy now.
it will sit right next to the one i received for loosing all of our shoes in the mud, putting glasses on the wrong kid and smashing an angry rooster with a shovel.


a lot of random {including fancy cakes, pretty purses & post adoption depression.}

when all else fails, fall asleep at 8pm while telling bedtime stories.
that's my go to move when i get all mixed up in life, being over-committed and just plain exhausted.
i awake to find i am stealing nearly all of my son's blankets, my head is teetering dangerously on a stuffed animal horse as a makeshift pillow and a serious kink in my back has arrived that will take days to work itself back to normal.
the cover stealing and neck kink aside, there is something wonderful about falling asleep at 8pm...something magical happens the next day. i'm fully awake. i don't need coffee. i'm feel like a crazy awesome super mom. the house gets clean and i might even attempt a few crafty going-on's (while avoiding packing all-together).

my 8pm accidental fall asleep doesn't come often, so i drink coffee. push past the perilous first hour of the day and find myself energized. not because i slept enough, but because i'm finding my joy again. joy in God's grace and His ability to provide for my family, even when i can't pull it together.

i'm finally gaining some clarity as i look past over the last year of life...and with clarity, i've become sadly aware of the area suffered most. i have found that i need to un-do what my post adoption depression disorder did to my family. specifically in the parenting arena (and my 12 lb weight gain).

yes. i said it. post adoption depression disorder.

the phrase i was too ashamed and disheveled to admit while i was struggling to survive each passing day, is now something i am able to speak out loud. finding my way through has given me such greater compassion toward other moms, and a greater understanding of the stressful toll my emotional, physical and spiritual self suffered.

i have much to say on this topic, but today, i feel as though i need to put it out there.

i have read very few honest accounts of other mom's struggling through this beast. and in my deepest, darkest days, i longed to feel like i wasn't alone. i wanted to at least know that i would survive and come out on the other side.

if it isn't something you've struggled through, keep your feelers out for friends who might be in the midst. unable to see themselves out. needing someone, anyone...to let them know they are loved. take flowers. send a text, a call, a meal.
a dear friend did this for me...diligently over the course of a few months. God used her in a most powerful way in my life and i can honestly say her kindness was clearly one of the ways God brought healing to my life.

more to come soon.

we currently have a little girl who decided, after 6 months of sleeping 13 hours at night, she no longer feels like sleeping...or at least not in her own bed. yes, my friends, my sweet little sweetie is quite demanding oh around 2 am...and i am quite easy to convince.

seriously cute, right? you should see her in the middle of the night when she's sad. it's impossible to resist :)

so we end up something like this.
me and emery. snuggled cheek to cheek, hand in hand, snuggled on my fluffy pillow. she breathes like the sounds of heaven and i smile for hours as i peacefully slumber next to her.
and then there's clint. he sort of gets kicked in the face, chest, arm, etc amidst all of our snuggling. emery likes to sleep in a somewhat sideways configuration so as to maximise our snuggling...but it also maximizes the lack of sleep for mr. clinto.

*thanks Alicia for the good laugh and for sending me this pinterest gem :)
i have a feeling this is exactly how clint feels :)

so, we are working on tactics to thwart her night time addition to my pillow.
i just can't quite seem to deny her the comfort of knowing we are close to her. it's harder to transverse then sleeping issues we had with the boys.
it's different. i'm different, and there is something so soothing for me to give her the security of mom and dad when i know she hasn't always had it. but then again, we aren't sleeping, she gets her way, and i wonder if we are doing her a disadvantage by not helping her develop healthy sleep patterns. oh and we are inconsistant and exhausted.
it's a recipe for midnight disaster.
comments? suggestions?
am i crazy? don't answer that :)

and then there's my rejuvenated etsy shop. i've missed sweet etsy, but needed the lengthy lapse that has occurred naturally after miss emery came home.
the past few weeks brought a rush of orders and i'm excited to add some spring colors to my classic "Emery Lin Clutch Bag".
check out the new sassy springs...

i'm excited to guest blog today over at my in-law's famous bakery. ok, let's be real. i'll use any excuse to peruse pinterest and find lovely ideas...add in the opportunity to write about such finds and i'm one happy lady :)

(see sources and all my cake finds here)

 the bakery is a part of life in our family. it's normal to have fantastic cakes floating around, fancy fondant creations for any occasion and getting to see first hand just how amazing they are. clint's brother (chad) and sister (christie) have recently taken over the family business and skyrocketed it to the next level. check out the cake-awesomeness that is The Master's Baker.

we found out this morning that the settlement on our house, which was scheduled for thursday, is delayed again. for the 3rd week in a row. the bank required us to replace 4 broken windows on the 3rd floor before settlement. we were bummed to put out extra money before the house was officially ours...and then the bank offered to pay for the windows...and pay clint to install them. yea, crazy awesome.
so we were fine with waiting. peachy keen, in fact.
until the window company forgot to make the windows.
they are supposedly on an express production line today, and will be escorted to our house later this week, but not in time for closing.
delayed again.
but, hey, i work better under pressure anyway. who needs perfectly packed boxes when you can have 3 extra weeks to procrastinate?

this is the point of the night when i have so much more to write, so much more that i keep forgetting to document and a powerful desire to stay up all night just to finish all that i didn't get done over the past week. and then i pass out on the couch. i wake up wearing what i wore all day, the dishes are still unwashed, the piles of junk didn't get put away and i have a sinking feeling we left the front yard littered with all sorts of clothes and toys and possibly a few hermit crabs.
i sigh.
such is life.
tomorrow it starts all over again.
and i love it.


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