What I Thought Grief Would Look Like

*Disclaimer- If I had even a little bit of computer knowledge I would have made these graphs on the computer, but I’m terrible at that kind of stuff, so I had to make them by hand. My photography skills are no better- so I apologize ahead of time. I’ll blame the poor quality of these pictures on the two half-naked (really cute) little people who were crowding around me the whole time I was working on this post.

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This is what I thought grief would look like:

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 This is what grief really looks like:

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I was shocked when, only weeks after losing Lucy, people started to ask me, “So, are you feeling better yet?” I never knew what to say. Some days were bearable, most were horrific. And even when I had a day or two where I felt almost ok, I knew the dark days of deep sadness would hit again, and they did. I was very frustrated the first few months because I had this idea in my mind that grief SHOULD look like this:

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And most people want grief to look like that. They want you to heal quickly and cleanly. Unfortunately, grief is messy and it has its own timetable. I always think it’s kind of funny when people are frustrated that my grieving is taking so long. They seem almost mad at me because I’m still sad months later. Don’t they think that if I had ANY control over my grief, I would be done with it already? It is the worst pain I have ever felt and I don’t enjoy it. I am healing as fast as I can, but unfortunately, it can’t be hurried. Here I am, 14 months later, and I am just now starting to feel a little better. But every day I carry a weight of grief that goes unnoticed and unfelt by most of the people around me. I am getting used to the weight, but it has not left, and I don’t think it will until I’m in heaven.

This past winter has seemed colder than usual, and spring has been long in coming. The temperature from day to day has been wildly unpredictable. One day I have the heat on, the other day I have the air conditioner on. It is the perfect metaphor for my grief. I know that spring is coming, but it doesn’t come on the perfect timetable, every day growing a little warmer than the day before. It’s up and down and up and down and slowly, slowly, the ups get higher and the lows aren’t as low and one day, there are beautiful flowers blooming and the grass is turning green. My healing has been the same, except my spring is going to be YEARS in the making.

I think most people, including my old self before my tragedy, believe healing means you get better and better on a continuos trajectory upwards. So if you feel like this (red arrow) one day, they expect you to feel like this (green arrow) the next time they run into you.

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But in reality you might feel like this the next time you run into them.

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Do you know someone who has lost a loved one? They are still grieving. They are still feeling the loss. Be patient, be loving and remember that grief looks like this:

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and it doesn’t look like this:

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What our adoption process looks like

A lot of people have asked us how the adoption process works, so I want to explain the basics. There are many different ways to adopt- through foster care, internationally, domestically through an agency or privately through a lawyer. Some people adopt relatives or step children. There are lot’s of choices and we decided to do domestic infant adoption. Originally, we were going to adopt from Korea, but after looking into it we realized that it is more expensive, the wait is longer, it is very hard to adopt a girl, and the baby is usually a toddler by the time he/she comes home. Since we have missed almost everything with Lucy, we don’t want to miss anything with our next baby. How strange that the few things we will miss out on with our adopted baby (conception, pregnancy and birth) are the only things we got to experience with Lucy. Anyway, the adoptions are also different depending on the agency you choose.

The basic steps are:

  • Apply to the agency, get accepted
  • Complete infant adoption training classes
  • Complete the home study, get approved
  • Decide on our preferences (gender, race, age, drug exposure, etc) for our baby
  • “Go Live” which means our profile is available for birth parents to look at
  • Be “matched” or chosen by the birth parents to adopt their baby
  • “Placement” happens when the baby is born and the parents sign the adoption papers
  • We bring our baby home and celebrate!
  • The adoption is finalized several months later

Some Common Questions:

How much does it cost?

It will be about $22,000 for our adoption. You can see the exact fees here.

How long is the wait?

I was told the wait, with our agency, is about 10-12 months, but I think that means after we are home study approved. The home study can take several months. We are hoping to have our baby by 2015 (but would love to meet her sooner!) For some people the wait can be days, and for some people the wait can be years.

Are you adopting a girl?

The option to choose the gender of the baby also varies by agency, but with Bethany Christian Services, we are given the choice. At first we thought we should just leave it up to God and let Him choose, but after thinking and praying more, we have decided to adopt a girl. It is very important for us for many reasons (and NO, we are not trying to replace Lucy, as if that is even possible.) Out of all the choices we have regarding our baby (race, special needs, drug exposure, open/closed adoption) the most important one, by far, is gender, and we ache for a baby girl. So, we are adopting a baby girl. This could make our wait much longer since some birth moms make their adoption plan and choose their adoptive parents in their first trimester.

Are you adopting a caucasian baby? African American? Asian? Hispanic? 

Like the gender choice, our first instinct was to be open to all races and let God decide who our daughter is. We would actually love a baby of color (any color!) I feel a connection to African Americans, since I grew up in Africa, and Josh and I have a deep love for Korea (and Japan, China and Thailand too.) But, the more we learn about it, the more we see that it is much more complicated than we think. We don’t see color in our family (our boys have still NEVER noticed that some people have different colored skin), but most of the world does, and Alabama does especially. We have to make sure we are committed to teaching this child how to live in this country as a minority. We have to give the child a rich, diverse community to grow up in. We have to support her cultural background. We ultimately have to do what is best for the child. We are still praying about this and will do what we think God wants us to do, but right now we are open to all races.

Can the birth parents change their minds?

The birth parents have five days (in Alabama) after the birth of the baby to change their minds about their adoption plan. This is often a very scary time for the adoptive parents, knowing the birth parents could choose to parent and break their hearts. It is important to remember that this is THEIR baby to begin with and I do not want to adopt their baby if they are not completely sure about their adoption plan. For us, adoption is much lower risk than trying to have a baby naturally. No one will be dying. The “worst” thing that could happen is the baby ends up with her own parents, so it’s a win win for us.

What is an “open adoption”?

Most domestic infant adoptions today are considered “open” adoptions. This means that the biological parents have some type of contact with the adoptive parents and baby. Usually, the adoptive parents and birth parents discuss the level of “openness” they are comfortable with and make a plan before the baby arrives. Sometimes the birth parents feel like it’s too painful and they don’t want any contact, and sometimes they want regular updates and occasional visits. The ideal situation for us is whatever our birthparents want. More than anything, we want them to feel comfortable with the adoption plan that they choose, so we are open to whatever they decide. We love these people already, and they will always be a special part of our family, whether they choose an open adoption or a more closed one.

Will it be harder to love this baby than it is your biological children?

Absolutely not. God chose this baby for us and knew that this baby would be a Weathersby before we were even created. We love this baby already so much. I cry every time I think about meeting our baby for the first time, just like when I was pregnant with Liam and Asher and Lucy. I would cry every time I thought about giving birth and meeting them. I have even heard some adoptive parents say they have a hard time loving their bio kids as much as their adopted child because they actually “chose” the adopted kid and they were “chosen” for him or her. Of course, we will love all of our children equally, unconditionally and without effort.

We are still kind of new to all of this and we are still learning about all of the details. If you have any questions about our adoption, please ask! Just like my losses and anti-kell antibody issues, I feel very open about it and actually love to talk about it. Adoption is such a beautiful, fun journey and we are so thankful God has led us to this.

Yard Sale Fundraiser

This past weekend we had our yard sale fundraiser for our adoption. It was so much work and it was so much fun. I don’t think I have felt this encouraged and hopeful since losing Lucy. Josh and I had been saving things we didn’t need for a few months, but it only amounted to a few boxes of items to sell. We asked our friends if they wanted to donate anything to our yard sale and we were OVERWHELMED with donations. Boxes and bags of donations piled up all around us. Every single donation felt like a little message from God, “I love you, I am providing for you, your baby is coming.” I am still in shock. A couple days before the yard sale, a woman from our church told us that she had been saving up her extra things to have her own yard sale, but decided she didn’t have time to do it. That day she brought over a trailer FULL of donations.

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The first day of our sale, a friend texted me and asked if I wanted some more donations. She was moving and was going to have her own yard sale as well, but decided to just give us everything. She donated truck loads of the most beautiful furniture, tools, clothes, etc. They were all sold within an hour of being unloaded.

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Just some of the clothes we had for sale

Not only were we extremely blessed by the people donating items to sell, but we were so blessed by the people who came to our yard sale. I would guess, 90% of the people who came didn’t know us. We only priced a couple of the really large items like a roll top desk and table and chairs. Nothing else was priced. We told everyone that they could donate whatever they wanted to our adoption in exchange for the items they wanted to take. Not once did we tell someone that their price was too low. In fact, the majority of the people absolutely amazed us with their generosity. Several people came and didn’t find anything they wanted, but still donated to our adoption. One couple got several toys and come kid’s clothes and gave us $300. I cried, my Mom cried, we could not believe the generosity.

I put a sign up at the sale mentioning our stillbirth and miscarriages in 2013 and our adoption in progress. SO many people came up to me and told me about their own losses. One couple had also lost three babies, another woman told me she had 5 boys, but her one baby girl had been stillborn. Another woman said she lost her son and he should be 41 years old today. Story after story of babies lost, and in the sharing of the heartache there was great peace and healing. It helps to know you are not alone in your suffering.

On our yard sale signs (made by a sweet family who just adopted last year) it said “Adoption Yard Sale.” SO many people came by and told us their story of adoption. Some had been adopted themselves, others had adopted children, some were in the process of adopting. Many of them stopped just because the sign had said “adoption” and they wanted to support someone else’s adoption. All of their stories were hopeful and encouraging. I think it is a testament to how wonderful adoption really is. Many of the people who have supported us the most have been people who have experienced adoption in some way themselves. Once you see what a beautiful thing adoption really is, you want to promote it and support it any way you can. We feel so blessed to be able to adopt and hopefully support others in their adoption journey in the future.

Another sweet thing about the yard sale was that it felt like a tangible sacrifice we all could make for our baby girl who is on her way. When I was pregnant with my first three kids I suffered greatly during pregnancy. It was excruciating, and my all day sickness was so intense. The pain of childbirth was nothing compared to the pain and sickness of the first half of the pregnancy. But it felt very natural to be able to suffer for my babies, to work hard for them and know that they were worth it all. With this baby, some other amazing woman is doing the suffering and I can’t take it from her, even though I would in a heartbeat if I could. I feel like I’m not doing enough. But throughout the yard sale, I kept having this wonderful realization that all of this sacrifice (hours and hours of backbreaking work and sleepless nights and my kids being ignored and people giving pieces of themselves) was for HER. I know it is still not much of a sacrifice, but it was nice to be able to at least do SOMETHING. All of this was for her, and she is worth it all. One day I will tell her about this past weekend, how Grandbarry, Grandmama, Auntie Jessica, Shelly and Mommy and Daddy all worked so hard for her. How so many people donated their own things and their own time for her. How strangers gave their own money for her, even though they didn’t know who any of us were. She is going to know how special and loved she is, and that God has a beautiful plan for her life.

Thank you, to all of you who donated your storage space, your things, your time and your money. Thank you to everyone who prayed for our sale and for our family. We made over $3,000 in only two days (one day was rained out.) We hope that because of your generosity, God will prosper you and refresh you. You have certainly refreshed our souls this weekend.

Proverbs 11:24,25

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.