Birth Mom Photo-a-Day Project

I know I don’t write here as much as I plan (see here for more consistent writing), but I am much more active on social media. Why? Because with 4 kids, it is easier to snap a photo, share a link, or write a little status update than to write out, edit, and make a photo for each thought I wish share. So, I want to connect with you over there!

I’m participating in Big Tough Girl‘s Birth Mom Photo-a-Day Project, sharing my heart and treasured pictures from my adoption placement. It’s a snapshot inside look into my experience as a birth mom and what adoption means to me. Hope to see you there! Find me on Instagram or The Grace Bond’s Facebook page.

And if you are a birth mom, I would love to see your own posts! Don’t forget to use the hash tag #btgadoption so others can find you. How awesome is social media to be able to meet, learn from, and connect with others walking this path?!

Birth Mom Photo a Day Challenge

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When You Don’t Like God’s Answer

Image credit: michaelgoodin

Image credit: michaelgoodin

I’m sitting here at my in-laws house, where our family of 6 + our cat have now lived for 3 weeks with 3 other adults + their cats. Good thing it is a big house!

It isn’t so bad, really. I am blessed with amazing family on all sides. Our strategy to move out of our 3 bedroom home so we could sell fast without having to keep it clean (which, is impossible with 4 young kids) or rush out for showing worked well and we were under contract within days. Days! God is so good.

But now the hard part is here for me. The house hunting. Sure, it seems exciting. Peeking in people’s windows when it looks like no one lives there any more. Taking tours. Admiring countertops and landscaping, mentally moving our stuff into place, and dreaming of wall colors. And then you fall in love. Like, it could be the one. It’s perfect. The dreamy kitchen with granite, dark wood floors, walls already your ideal paint color, enough bedrooms and space to grow. Fenced in yard. You know that feeling when your heart dives in before logic can catch up? When you’re ready to sign on the line before thinking it through. That.  

And then answer is no. The maybe-perfect home is a no. We don’t get the house.

Cue the adult tantrum. 

And now…I am being like my children when I say “no” to them out of their best interest.

“But I’ll NEVER find that again. It will NEVER happen. It will take FOREVER.”

Real life quotes from my 4 year old that I hear almost daily, which my internal dialogue has now adapted and has on repeat.

I remember this all too well with buying our last home. The roller coaster. There are such HIGH high and low lows. I kind of hate it, no matter how exciting it is to dream and explore. I just want to see the big picture. I want to get settled and create projects. I want to know that these boxes will get unpacked someday soon. I know God has a plan, I know He is sovereign. But, but, but. It sucks not getting our way.

I’m trying to remind myself, just as I remind my children, that God wants the best for us. My husband wants the best for us. And while one home looked perfect, it wasn’t for mean to be ours. We have prayed diligently through this buying and selling process and what a bonding experience it has been for my husband and I. Doors have been swung open at times, such as with selling our home so fast, and doors shut in our faces after praying for a clear answer on how to move forward. I have peace about it all, I do, but I still have my moments of adult tantrums in the initial moments of news or decisions. I feel anxious wondering where we will end up and when. How will it all work out?

Still, I am reminded of the many times in the past that God has done just as He promised. Like in choosing adoption for Anna, I really did not like His answer then! The peace I felt surrendering my desires though and accepting His answer, while letting go of what I thought was best has yielded to a redeemed life and a beautiful relationship with her. Or, Sadie’s birth 8 months ago (yes, EIGHT! Time flies. I love her.) when I felt a similar angst as I waited for her arrival in a situation I couldn’t quite grasp. I didn’t see the big picture then, but I trusted God to see it. And He did. Oh, how He made the experience beyond what I could imagine, meeting every need and desire while being ever-so-present in the process. So that is what I am clinging to right now. His promises. I know He has promised us a home and I know He is working out all the details to meet our needs. I love that He knows our needs deeper than we even do.

I know I can trust Him for His answer, His timing,  His YES...just as my kids can trust mine.

And so…we wait.

When You Don't like God's answer. Adult Tantrums, anyone? How to combat with truth at

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Life Just Got Busy (and Welcome!)

LifeJustGotBusyI still have a post waiting in the drafts processing my feelings on Anna and I’s 4 day sleepover this past summer. I promise I will finish it and it will be published one day! I feel like it is important for others to see what open adoption can be like and what our relationship has bloomed into over these last 11 years. But, for now I felt like I needed something new up to welcome the wildly successful #ShoutYourAdoption viewers that clicked over. Thank you! Thank you. Thank you all for sharing, liking, and commenting and spreading LIFE and what is possible with adoption. Keep it up. Head over to The Grace Bond’s instagram page or Facebook page to stay up to date in between blog posts!


Now, here’s where I have been. Life is absolutely insanely busy right now but, oh, my soul! My soul is so filled with my 4 little loves at home, the FaceTime chats with Anna that brighten my world even more, and the work God has me doing within my passions of adoption/parenting and writing. Wow, God is faithful when He places dreams on our heart!

1) Packing.  I know I will have more to say on this in another post, there is so much to process! But basically we have outgrown our little home and the Lord has finally opened the doors to hopefully find our forever home. This is thrilling yet so sad at the same time. We truly love our little home and it has served us well these last years. After all, we’ve had one even born here in our bedroom!

2) Supporting.  Like I said above, God has been opening so many doors within the passion and heart He has given me: supporting those in unplanned pregnancies and through writing. I have been doing what I can to support mommas in need of encouragement on all sides of the adoption triad, or mommas who decide to parent. A few weeks ago my community pulled together all these goodies for a young momma who decided to parent at the last minute. What a joy this was to be a part of and to be the tool in God’s hands to provide both physical things for her new baby girl and emotional support. I’m now a mentor with Talk About Adoption and also partnering with Binti, you can find me over there too!


3) Writing. (Just not here…) I now right for and  One is a deeper look into my adoption experience and unplanned pregnancy while the other is geared towards everything motherhood. I love my job! It is so exciting when passion overlaps with career. Go check those out.

4) Schooling. So, because of this move we decided to pull our oldest out of public school so we wouldn’t have to keep enrolling/unrolling in several schools. This makes it more consistent for her and fulfills my heart tug to have her home, too :-) We decided on Connection Academy. So far so good!

5) Disney World! Ah, it was nice to spend a week pretending we were in another world and we weren’t adults. And the kids faces? Priceless. Totally worth it the 11 hour drive.

Disney 2015

Again, thank you for stopping by and head over to the social media buttons on this page to see what’s going on sooner rather than later.  I do lots of writing and sharing over there! And, if you would, pray for our family. Pray for me. We have so much going on right now and it can be stressful or we (I ) can lose sight of priorities. Pray that I can balance this all with God’s strength. There is so much change! All good and exciting things, but it is change none-the-less which can be hard on kids or type A mommas like me :-) Thank you for your prayers.


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10 Ways Birthmother Grief Feels Like Miscarriage

10 Ways adoption

Don’t forget I blog a lot about adoption and my experience as a birthmom over on as well! This is my latest piece about the grief of a birthmom and how I found the emotions similar to my miscarriage heartbreak. I wrote this in hope it helps others connect to one another, especially to put your feet in the shoes of a birthmother, the best way we know how.

1. Leaving the hospital empty handed

I remember being wheeled out of the hospital empty handed two times. Once after I placed at 16 years old and again as a young married mom. Each time I went in with a baby (or two) inside me and was wheeled out with empty arms and a broken heart. It was incredibly hard knowing in an ideal world this wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.  READ MORE


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Joy in the Lazy Summer Morning

Joy in the Lazy summer Mornings

My summer morning routine lately:

-Nurse baby
-Get up between 6 & 7 am (with the rare occasion of 8am!)
-Set up TV show for kids
-Make food/smoothies
-Drink smoothie while reading devotional
-Make coffee
-Put baby down for morning nap
-Drink coffee
-Write and browse Facebook
-Take a shower around 10am
-Start chores, lunch prep, play time, etc.

Joy in the morning

Yes, my kids have watched a wee bit much TV these last weeks of summer. And I don’t care right now, because my house is so peaceful for me to just sit while I soak up God’s word and things that fill me so I can be better for them later in the day. Self-care is essential, ya know. I’m filling up for when we are painting and using our imagination while building blocks this afternoon. I’m filling myself up for these nights where we have been staying up late battling over the kitchen table where our board game time is held, or the moments of having deep faith talks with my 8 year old. And the hard moments– because, oh, how trying our 2 year old Ashlyn is right now and the bickering between my 2 older ones can be relentless at times. These laid back, lazy morning have been so refreshing to fuel up before the chaos.

Summer Fun collage 2015

I also started using the First 5 app last Monday and every single day I have been consistent so far reading, praying, and letting the short messages soak in. In result, everyday has changed for the better. The difference? My attitude. I still wake up tired from our late night board gaming (so worth it!), but my soul sings out with joy at the sight of my kids smiles (usually). He gives me strength to handle the hard moments like melt downs in the library (happens every time!). His word each morning has softened my heart to be more of what they need and to see them how He sees them: Pure joy. In return, they are more joyful, too. I’m treasuring these last summer days of time for me and time for them.

summer fun

This routine won’t last forever, I know. School is right around the corner and then I will be up at 6am having to move, move, move everybody out the door while trying to squeeze in my devotional time to keep me fueled up for the busyness. The day will begin much earlier and TV rules back in place. But right now? This is the life. We’re breaking some rules and we’re truly enjoying it.

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11th Birthday Thoughts: Feeling Adoption Loss

11th Birthday Thoughts-2

Anna turned 11 in June and as usual it brought about memories and emotions that I don’t usually have on a daily basis.  Usually I am very much at peace and content that we have 2 separate lives that occasionally intersect. However, birthdays trigger memories to come flooding back as if it was just yesterday, making the piece missing in my heart feel just as raw as it was after placement.

After her birthday party on my 2 hour drive home, I couldn’t help but just cry a little. As I listened to the worship music on my iPhone, I let the flood gates down I miss her. I miss the daily presence she would have in our lives. I kept thinking of all the things I have missed over the last 11 years. The little things. The things like tucking her in at night, making her food, knowing who her friends are, taking care of her boo-boo’s, or taking her shopping.  What killed me inside was that she obviously feels that loss too, as does my 8 year old Savannah. They both sobbed when having to say goodbye. Goodbyes seem to be getting harder as they get older and understand more. It kills me that I basically am the cause of this, by my choice years ago. These are the things you don’t think about when making an adoption plan years, looking ahead to what it will be like later on and the challenges ahead. Would I change my decision if I could go back? No. I still know I did what was best at 16 years old for her and I. Life was different then. I can’t deny that adoption is always easy though and it has constant new waters to gauge as it affects more than just the 2 of us. And honestly, if I had kept Anna, Savannah wouldn’t exist anyway because I wouldn’t of met Mark. Our life would have looked very different.

But, oh, how grateful I am to have her in my life at all. I know we are blessed in our open adoption. Her parents are amazing and nurture her desire to know us and allow us to be together when we can in our busy lives. Having the relationship we do certainly helps because I can see what a wonderful life she has and I love knowing that she is being raised how I would raise her if she were with me now. God hand picked the best parents possible! So, as we move into this 11th year together navigating this new territory of her curiosity and deeper understanding of adoption, I’m glad I have my God as my guide and comforter. He has never failed us before. He won’t now. After all, He is the one who put all this into motion. He, and our mutual love for Anna, have been at the center of our adoption and it has created a beautiful thing. Reminding and resting in that truth helps the feelings of loss.

God didn't promise

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Journey to Joy: My Happy Place

happy place

We decided to splurge this year and make our back patio nicer for us to actually enjoy.  Before it was a tiny strip of concrete that could basically hold our grill and that is it. We do enjoy running around in the grass playing soccer or flying kites when the weather is suitable, but after 5 years of being in this home we envisioned how much more we could enjoy our backyard if we could actually sit out there, too!

patio collage 5


While we’ve often had 100 degree heat during the day (thanks, summer!), the mornings for breakfast and evenings are absolutely heavenly. Bonus: makes clean up pretty easy!

patio collage 3

I’ll admit I’m not much of a nature person, despite having 5 years of camp under my belt at Camp Hanes, complete with an entire week of hiking the Appalachian Trail (no showers, using a sweatshirt as a pillow, crackers and salami for lunch, drinking water out of streams. Gasp. Who was that girl?). I don’t much like bugs that tend to favor my flavor, dirt on my hands, getting sweaty, or the wind in my hair (my hair is long and tangles easily, ya know). However, having this extra “room” (technically a gazebo) with a screen we can close to keep mosquitos out and a roof over our heads has been amazing. I can enjoy the outdoors from the safety of our patio. We purchased a few finishing touches like an outdoor dining table, a (fake) plant, string of lights, candles, a chevron rug, and an outdoor chandelier. Looking at them makes me happy. We had a porch swing already that we moved in there with new cushions to update the look (and well, ’cause the old ones were falling apart). That’s my favorite spot. 

patio collage 1

One hand holding coffee (very carefully…) watching the new day’s glow on my children’s morning faces, the other arm cradling my 4 month old while the birds sing a chorus exclaiming God’s glory behind us in the trees. Gently rocking back and forth as we talk about today’s plan. It is a beautiful way to wake up, to start fresh.  And even if the rest of the day feels chaotic, busy, and loud…the mornings are a moment in time filled with calm and simplistic joy.

As I sit here 4 months postpartum, on the brink of where things went down hill after Ashlyn’s birth into postpartum depression,  I know these moments of joy and “doing what works” are crucial to holding on. Finding joy in the chaos is essential to being a mom. This…this is my happy place right now. 

 You speak: Where is your happy place? Tell me about it in the comments!

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How I Learned the Value of a Doula

How I learned the value of a doula

I had never had a doula with my 4 previous births. Partially because for the earlier births in the hospital I didn’t know they even existed but once I learned what a doula was, I didn’t think I needed one. Call it pride. Call it ignorance. Call it me wanting to save my money. Whatever you want to call it, I thought I could do this birthing thing on my own.

I mean, I had my husband there and my midwife…that was enough, right? They knew what I would need!  And yes, with my 2 natural experiences at the birth center and at home they did their best to be what I needed. Both were very positive experiences and going into my 5th birth I still felt confident that I didn’t need a doula present.

But then my husband couldn’t be at our birth. With 3 other children (if you are confused on that math compared to above: I do have 4 children but one was placed in open adoption when I was 16) the most sick I have ever seen them with high fevers, lethargic, flu-like symptoms, we knew that he needed to stay with them while I labored and birthed elsewhere. We had planned for a home birth again, but for this reason we decided it best to go to the birthing center near by to avoid the germs and for my team to have space to move around the home as needed.  Having the place figured out, I felt scared of doing this on my own. Sure, I had my midwives but their job is split between me and the baby. I needed someone there dedicated to my needs while in labor and afterwards like my husband would be. Typically, he is my rock during labor, I needed a replacement rock.

So, a friend that is studying to be a doula offered to be in that place and another dear friend ended up staying for birth as well. I had TWO rocks! It was incredible. Of course, I wanted my husband there and I did have to work through some grief that he wouldn’t be there to witness his daughter’s birth, but I also felt a lot of peace in the situation. I knew I had the support I needed. And as a result of the situation, I learned the value of a doula.  

For the first time in my 4 labors, I had a woman’s touch to push my hips together or rub my back and stroke my hair as I breathed deep into my zone. For the first time, I had other women there to talk me through the fear of the pressure I was feeling, knowing what was coming soon and knowing they knew what I was feeling.  I had someone to encourage me to try this position or that, to remind me to breathe more efficiently. I had someone make the suggestion of trying this oil or that one for how I was feeling. Their heart-to-hearts while I sat in the tub will always be treasured moments of Sadie’s birth. The atmosphere was full of peace and JOY! There are pictures of us laughing while I’m in the tub and my friends perched on the other side in between contractions. When a contraction hit, one or both of my friends would jump to action to be by my side, one rubbing my back and one rubbing my hair. I felt like a goddess, just how a birthing mother should feel. 

As a result, I felt completely relaxed and in control throughout my entire birth, even during pushing. My previous birth at home, while a positive experience, there were things I wanted to improve on like relaxing more during transition and pushing, trying a different birthing position, being quieter during transition, breathing more effectively, etc. I truly feeling having my doula friends there to be my support helped me meet those goals to feel in control. I pushed only 3 times and while I did RAWR my daughter out into this world, I still felt very in control of the whole process.

My midwife commented later how this being a birth without a man present felt like a trip back into time as an all women birth was how it used to be, so now we affectionately call this our “Red Tent birth.” She also mentioned how watching my friends supporting me she almost felt like she shouldn’t interfere too much and kept her distance to not interrupt us. Of course, my midwife was still there to keep tabs on baby’s heartbeat and assess how I was doing, they were there to help deliver my second caul baby as she was born into the water, and was there to breathe life into her when Sadie needed some extra help at first.  It was an amazing, incredible birth experience all around. The power of women is an incredible thing. I drew strength from them, knowing they knew what I was feeling.

I wanted to share this with you because you are worth having a doula. I now think every mom should have a doula if possible, it’s worth every penny for every moment that they are to support you in one of the biggest moments of your life. If you cannot afford one, look to a friend or a doula in training that may assist for free.  However you can make it work, do it! Doulas are so valuable to a having positive birth experience.

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Labor and Postpartum Oils: What Worked for Me

labor oils collage Our Sadie turned a month old on Friday…mind blown!  Time has flown by already and I am trying my best to treasure every moment of her being so small and cuddly. More on that another day, but I thought it was time to share what I found most helpful during her labor and this postpartum time frame for both of us.

Here is what I planned to try during labor and beyond: Essential Oil Labor Plans

And here’s what I have used:

Active Labor

I used Clary Sage or Monthly Blend to encourage contractions before arriving at the birth center when things were just starting by applying to my lower belly and pressure points on my ankles.  Once I got in the tub later on, we had a few drops in the water I was laboring in along with Geranium for calming and help slow bleeding after birth. I feel that it did help to move things along quickly and to keep me relaxed. I was very drawn to the scent and loved smelling it during active labor.  I will forever associate the smell of the Monthly Blend with my birth with Sadie, I love it! As things progressed and I was having stronger contractions with more pressure, I started feeling more fearful of what was ahead, memories and fears of my previous births came rushing back. Juniper Berry also is one I am very attracted to and is supposed to help with the emotion of fear, so we put that on a towel on the edge of the tub where I could smell it as well.

We also had a diffuser going, but I cannot remember what we put in it! The room was large and the diffuser wasn’t near the tub so I didn’t smell it much myself, but I’m sure it did help with the atmosphere of our birthing room in general and helping my birth attendees. I found for my use, having it on a towel or pillow right by my face when I had a contraction as I closed my eyes and took deep breathes was most helpful.


As soon as I got off the bed after my midwife checked to find my 7-8cm and onto a birthing ball beside the bed while we refilled the tub, I felt nauseous and shaky which is typical for transition stage. It was a very familiar feeling in my previous births and I knew pushing was close! I mentioned how I was feeling to Leslie and she suggested peppermint. I’m so glad I had someone there to make suggestions because being that far along I wasn’t thinking “what will help?” but just focusing on what my body was doing. She put peppermint on her hand for me to smell during the next contraction and it was instantly helpful. Shakes and nausea were gone right away and I immediately felt more energized and able to focus through the intensity as well. This by far was my favorite oil for labor and one I highly suggest! Once I got back into the tub, we again put peppermint on a towel for me to smell on the edge of the tub. I breathed it in and enjoyed the scent and the ways it was helping me focus.

The picture above was me smelling peppermint on the towel, just about fully dilated and about to push. So calm and still in my zone! One thing I aimed to do in this labor was to be more calm and less “vocal” and I truly feel between the oils and the massages I was receiving with each contraction, helped me to do that. I felt very much relaxed and in control the whole labor and birthing time.

Postpartum & Baby

I had made a roller bottle of “Reduce Bleeding blend” suggested by Stephanie Fritz in her book that I used both as a preventative before labor and afterwards. I did still bleed more than my midwife liked but it was less than my previous births, where I needed a piton shot before but not this time. I also attribute the less bleeding than my “normal” and the better energy levels after birth thanks to the Basic Vitality Supplements pack I took as my prenatal pills. My family commented over and over how much more energy and color I had this time around after birth! I used the Reduce Bleeding blend for several days postpartum as well to help slow the bleeding and I felt it helped to not be so heavy. I was amazed at how quickly things lightened up this time.

Afterbirth pains and my stomach muscles felt horrible for the first few days.  We used Marjoram for the tired sore stomach muscles and that helped a ton! For the after pains, I tried lavender and white fir.  I also used arnica and Afterease tincture, but nothing truly helped the afterpains as I had hoped it would. A heating pad was super helpful though! Eventually on day 3 I finally gave in and took a dose or 2 of pain medicine.

Bottom healing wise, praise the Lord I didn’t tear at all this time! I still did a Lavender and Frankincense spray and also added Geranium to my peri bottle. Again, I felt it helped to reduce the bleeding and make sure everything stayed clean down there. If nothing else, I smelled awesome :-)

For hormones and hot flashes, Monthly Blend again is so helpful! I apply it morning and night on the back of my neck and bottoms of my feet. If I forget to before bed, I always wake up in night sweats! This is probably my favorite oil for postpartum for me.

For Sadie, the most used essential oils have been Frankincense, GeraniumDigestZen and Lavender. For her cord stump, I applied a little Frankincense and Geranium to boost healing and reduce bleeding (the scab kept getting picked a little on her onsies). Myrrh is recommended too but I didn’t have that one yet.

She had some bad spitting up issues the first week so we made a 5ml roller bottle with 5 drops Digestion Blend and Fractionated Coconut Oil. I just rub it on her belly clock wise and it seems to help relieve gas and reflux.  This is embarrassing to admit, but after birth as my insides were moving back into place and also “backed up” if you know what I mean, I was in a lot of pain with gas those first few days too. I used Digestion Blend and Fennel over my belly and it was SO helpful to both relieve pain and to get things moving again!

When I’m getting her ready for bed I put Lavender on her feet (and mine!).  She’s been a good sleeper anyway (praise God!) but it definitely seems to relax both of us and get us ready for bed. She does seem to sleep longer when I apply it verses when I forget. Plus it makes for a good bedtime routine and that’s always a good thing for babies!

One last tidbit of how oils have helped me in this postpartum time: my mood! Some days I still feel some blues or overwhelmed when I forget to take my placenta pills. Once again as it helped after Ashlyn, Joyful Blend and Grounding Blend are key to helping me feel more centered and joyful in those moments. I have a spray bottle of Grounding blend that I use every morning (I also used this during labor) and I keep something in the diffuser daily so we’re all breathing in the benefits!

What oils helped you during labor, birth, or afterwards? I have loved experimenting this time around with these tools God has gifted us from His creation!


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Sadie’s Birth Video

I was honored to have the amazing Katy Cook photograph Sadie’s birth. Through this blog and Facebook we were connected over adoption and it was a pleasure to finally meet her in person. Since Mark couldn’t be at the birth, this birth video and the pictures she captured will be treasured even more by us! You can read the details of Sadie’s birth here.

Now, grab some tissues! (all pictures are modest)

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  • May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14