PRAY FOR HOPE. AND THEN AGAIN FOR MORE HOPE.

70 names. 19 with babies. 15 pregnant. 39 wanting. pray.

If you are friends with me on FACEBOOK – you’ve seen something like this as my status. Over and over. It might be obnoxious. But I can’t stop. Seriously. CANNOT STOP.

70 names. 19 with babies. 15 pregnant. 39 wanting. pray. that was March 6th. 

67 names. 18 with babies. 8 pregnant. 41 wanting.pray. that was March 5th.

In one day – ONE DAY – pregnant almost doubled. DOUBLED.

Today – I’m not sad. I haven’t been sad about not having another baby for about a week now. That’s a HUGE step for me. I am finally letting the peace that God has given me about our decision take over – instead of fighting it. Fighting it because we should have 3 more. I’m feeling peace instead of being angry and hurt. Instead of wondering why me and why NOT me at the same time. It’s awesome. And I finally don’t feel guilty saying that.

God has placed SUCH a heavy burden on my heart for these 70 women that have asked for prayer (or have been put on my list by someone that loves them). There is not ONE SINGLE DAY that goes by that I don’t pray for them. I am in awe. I am overwhelmed at the emails and messages. The tears and the hopes. The amazing blessings that are pouring out on “my” wanting mommas. I am usually one of the FIRST people to know about their little babies. It gives me goosebumps. I cry and pray and thank Jesus for their gifts.

But I also don’t forget the heartaches. While that number has almost doubled – a few days before that – it was at 10. Then at 8. Two of those wanting mommas lost their miracles. It’s not fair. It hurts. And I italicize their name – cus I know that I wanted my lost ones recognized. And I pray again. For renewed strength and hope. And then again for more hope. Because I lost mine. So I pray again for even more hope.

Speaking of hope – I asked a woman I admire to share her journey with me. With you. With us. To encourage. To give hope. Here is her story.

I hope that my story will be a source of encouragement and support for those many couples who are praying for children with their prayers not yet answered.

I was 21 when I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.  It was very painful and debilitating.  After many unsuccessful treatments I ended up having an emergency hysterectomy when I was 23.  I had never been pregnant, so I knew I was never going to be able to give birth to my own children.  This was something that I needed to grieve and accept.  I needed to accept that I was never going to experience the joy of hearing, “You are pregnant”.  I was never going to be able to tell my husband that he was going to be a daddy.  I was never going to experience the “pregnancy glow” that I saw so many woman have. I was never going to experience a child growing inside of me, feeling a little flutter and then later a huge kick. I am sure some of you reading this can relate on many levels to what I am saying.

There was a part of me that felt that I was being punished by God for some reason.  Part of me felt that maybe God felt that I was not going to be a good mommy.  I was not sure.  All I knew was that I had a huge void in my life and nothing was going to fill it except a baby.

When I met my husband, I had the scary task of telling him that I was unable to have children.  I was terrified that he would reject me.  I felt like I was “damaged goods”.  When I finally worked up the courage to tell him, he looked me in the eyes and said, “So, we will adopt”.  The relief I felt was indescribable.

About a year after we were married we began our adoption process.  We had no idea what we were doing.  We began looking online for foreign adoptions, but knew there was no way we could afford them.  We also felt there we so many children in the US that needed good homes.  We prayed that God would lead us to the children He wanted us to parent.
We filled out applications and looked at different lawyers and agencies.  We were so disheartened that it felt that kids were being sold.  We got tired of the price tags on children’s heads.  When we did get interviews from one particular agency we felt like we were  being treated like deviants because we could not have biological children.  The questions we were asked were invasive and judgmental.  At least from our perspective of two adults who really wanted children.

After 2 years of searching, crying, praying and being told by people that we should, “Go into foster care and be happy with what we have if we are so hard up to be parents”.  Yes, we were told that.  We went through depression phases, anger phases, resignation phases, everything.

On April 7, 1998, we received a phone call from a woman from Catholic Charities.  She asked us if we are still looking to adopt a child.  We said, “YES! Of course!” She then, almost apologetically, said, ” Well, this baby is black”.  I replied, “So? I don’t care about color”.  She told us that many black couples had refused her because she was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and addicted to crack.

We wanted her.  We had 3 very long days to get ready and wait. We had a 4 hour drive ahead of us before we could meet our daughter and bring her home.  The night before we left, I checked the nursery over. We had bought everything. Everything except crib sheets!  How could we forget those?  We ran out to Wal*Mart and bought crib sheets, washed them and put them on the crib.  We couldn’t sleep. We left at 3 AM.

We got there at 7 in the morning and decided to walk on the Lake Michigan shore.  BIG MISTAKE.  I had an asthma attack and didn’t have my inhaler.  My husband wanted to take me to the ER, but I wouldn’t let him. Instead we drove to a store for some Primatine Mist. Thank the Good Lord, it worked!  There was NO WAY I was going to miss out on meeting my daughter.  Then we realized we did not have the car seat attached properly.  Laughing at ourselves, 2 highly educated people couldn’t figure this out! We worked on it for quite a while in a McDonalds parking lot.
Finally. 11 AM.  Time to meet our daughter.  We drove to the agency.  Excited.  Nervous.  Eager.  Happy.  Euphoric.  We met her.  All 3 pounds 15 ounces of her.  She was perfect.  Sweet.  Crying like crazy.  It was surreal.

I remember 3 days later, holding her in my hands wondering who this was.  In that exact moment I fell in love with her and finally knew what love really was.  Even though it wasn’t long before we were in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals and specialists for the next 15 years.  We knew without a doubt that she was meant to be ours.

By July of that same year, we decided we wanted a sister for our little girl!  Since it took 2 years of “labor pains” for our first daughter, we wanted to get started right away with the process.  A friend of mine worked with an adoption agency and called us asking if we were interested in a 15 month old girl, born with similar circumstances as our first.  We said, “YES!”  We began the process of getting ready for her. She had been in foster care all of her life except 3 days and they wanted to place her ASAP.

We went through the interview process.  We met her.  We were in love with her!  She was delightful!  Precious!  They were interviewing another couple, but felt that we were the ones they wanted to her to be placed with so it was just a formality.  Nothing to worry about.  We would get a phone call by the end of next week.  Next week came and went.  We didn’t get a phone call.  I called the Social Worker to find out what was going on.  She said that she couldn’t bring herself to call us because they decided to place the girl with the other couple.  The husband played for the Colts and the wife was a professional.  They could raise her to be a “productive member of society”.  I sobbed.  I was angry.  I told her that wasn’t my definition of success.  My husband and I cried and grieved.  We felt in our heart of hearts that this wasn’t right.

Two weeks later I can home from school to find my husband in the nursery moving things around.  I asked him what he was doing.  He replied that we was getting ready to bring our daughter’s sister home.  I thought he had lost it.  He told me to check the answering machine.  The Social Worker had called.  The couple had given the baby back.  They found out that she was pregnant and they did not want to raise their child with a “crack baby” for fear that the adopted baby would hurt their real baby.  So, once again we began to process of bringing our second daughter home.  We began with many visits.  This felt right.  By November of that same year, we brought our second daughter home to live with us!

About a year later we began the adoption process again.  We wanted more children, a house full.  Over the next couple of years we had many “adoption miscarriages”.  That is the only way I can think of to describe them.  So painful!  Then we found a birth mother who was 6 months pregnant.  We updated out autobiography and met with the adoption agency.  The birth mother chose us to be the family she wanted to raise her son.  We named him.  We fell in love with him.  We told our daughters about their baby brother.  We were supposed to pick him up at the hospital the weekend he was born.  We had a diaper bag packed and ready to go.  The weekend came and went.  We called the Social Worker.  The birth mother changed her mind and took the baby home with her.  I fell apart.  I told my husband, “No more”.  I cannot go through the emotional ups and downs of this.  We grieved “our son” for a while.  To this day we bring him up from time to time.

We then moved back “home”.  After a few years we decided to once again pursue adoption.  I felt that I wasn’t finished having children.  So we went through the loops, took the necessary classes and looked on the SWAN website for sibling groups.  We wanted to focus on siblings since they were harder to place.  There was no success.  A lot more pain.

We realized that we were going to be a family of 4 and we were okay with that.  We felt totally blessed with our daughters.  Yet, there was still a nagging feeling inside of me.  I wanted 1 more baby.  Allan did not feel the same way.  So it was put on the back burner.

Two years ago, my husband and I brought up adoption again.  This time we were both ready to think about it.  But we decided that if we were going to do this then God had to lead us because I did not have it in me to face further rejection.

In June of 2011 we were at a car dealership literally signing papers for a used van when my sister called asking if we wanted to adopt a baby.  She told me the situation.  The birth mother was 14 and looking for someone to adopt her baby.  She was due in one month.  We said, “YES!”  Right away we got a lawyer and called the agency we used when we took the classes years before.  They both thought this was never going to happen since we had only spoken with the grandmother of the baby, not the mother.  I assured them it was happening.  We got ready for the baby.

On July 9, 2011, we welcomed our 3rd daughter into our family.  I was able to be in the delivery room and cut the umbilical cord!  Our family is complete.  For now.  We will never turn away a child if one is presented to us.

So, God answered my prayers.  I am a mom.  I love my daughters SO much!  They are my answers to prayer.  My gifts.  My miracles.  I learned a lot these past 15 years.  So many people tell me how blessed the girls are to have us as parents.  No.  I who am blessed to be their mom.  Through these 3 amazing girls, I have learned my strengths, weaknesses, abilities, fears and how to truly trust and lean on God.  They have made me a better person.

There was a lot of heartache for my husband and I.  It was not an easy process for us.  But I would do it over again in a heartbeat.

I leave you with this.  There was a time when our first daughter was really sick.  I was angry at God.  Why would He bring us a child only to take her from us?  As I was going up the stairs to check on her, it was as if I heard Him say, “You dedicated her to Me.  She is Mine.  I am allowing you to raise her on earth.”  It was at that moment I truly dedicated any and all of our children to God.  They are not mine.  They are His.  And their lives are in His hands.  Always.

Eve-Marie – thank you SO much for sharing your story with me. With us. If you are waiting on God for an answer. For a baby – I am praying for you. For hope.

*B* FAMILY

Filed under: adoption,babes,beautiful,family,just because,kiddos,love,portraits — admin at 12:01 pm on Monday, October 22, 2012

Dillan entered the *B* family into the BEAUTIFUL contest earlier this year – and his submission won them a free session!

CRAZY CUTE KIDDOS!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE those shots!

Dillan – thanks SO much for nominating this BEAUTIFUL family!

Michelle & Phil – you guys are AWESOME!

WHEN WILL THE CRY OF YOUR HEART BE ANSWERED

Filed under: adoption,babes,baby barden,bardenisms,expecting,friends,just because,my family,newsworthy,word of God — admin at 2:27 pm on Friday, August 10, 2012

Before you read this devotional from Ron Hutchcraft – make sure you read the blog I wrote last night.

And then imagine my face when I opened this in my email this morning.

WAITING FOR THE BABY

RON HUTCHCRAFT – A WORD WITH YOU

FRIDAY – AUGUST 10, 2012

Someone said the best cure for the population explosion would be if men had to have every other baby. That would slow it down considerably! I’ll tell you, there’s something that women know about that process, though, that leads to life. A woman, particularly in her first pregnancy, is introduced to a long, sometimes very difficult life process. She knows she wants the baby; there’s no question about the results, but it’s the process she has some questions about sometimes: nausea, discomfort, her body’s doing things it never did before. And the months sometimes feel like years. And last but not least, there are the labor pains. That day alone can seem like one of the longest in her life. But then…then the baby comes.

You know, a lot of life is like child bearing. A long, sometimes unpleasant process is often the only route to the joyful result you want.

I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Waiting For the Baby.”

Now, our word for today from the Word of God is found in John 16; it’s about that motherhood experience, and I’m reading from verse 21. Jesus said, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come. But when her baby is born, she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” She was waiting for the baby, the process was painful, long, and difficult, but the baby came and erased all the bad memories of the process. A painful process that leads to a glorious result.

Now, what’s the uh… baby in your life right now? I don’t mean some little infant, but for you, maybe it’s the goal you’ve been striving for, the dream you’ve hoped would happen and you thought would happen, the outcome you’ve been praying for – you’ve been believing God for. Maybe it’s an outcome for one of your children, or a dream related to your career, something you’ve prayed for in your ministry, or your marriage. Maybe it’s a financial recovery that you’ve been counting on happening and trusting God for, or a physical recovery; an answer to some fervent prayer; a cry from your heart. But it’s taking so long, just like a baby.

It’s causing so much pain; you didn’t know it would be this tough, just like a baby. It’s causing things to happen to your feelings, and to your life that you never counted on, just like a baby. The process that will get you to that result has caused you to lose sight of that result that you were hoping for. Maybe you’re questioning whether or not it will ever happen. You’ve prayed for it, but you’ve got doubts now.

Well, I’m going to tell you today, “Hang in there!” Jesus was saying to His disciples, “You’re going to go through some times when the process is going to be so difficult, so long, you’ll despair that the result will ever happen. Hang in there, guys! Remember, the God of the outcome is also the God of the process. You’re trusting Him for the result. Well, can you trust Him for the process even though it’s difficult; even though it’s longer than you thought? Trust the processes of God, not just the results. He’s working through this process right now.

And as confusing as it may seem to you, He’s trying to prepare you, to prepare others, and to do it in a way that will call everyone’s attention to His love and power. When the baby comes, there’ll be no question that God gets the glory for it.

That means that sometimes it even has to get worse before it gets better. Just ask any woman who has been through labor. The process is difficult but right on schedule. And when that baby comes, well it will make the process worth it all.

*M* FAMILY – BEAUTIFUL WINNERS

Filed under: adoption,beautiful,family,just because,kiddos,portraits — admin at 3:13 pm on Friday, June 1, 2012

Julie and her family were nominated by Amy in the BEAUTIFUL contest this year!

They recently adopted *J* and Amy wanted Julie to be able to enjoy a photo session with her NEW family!

PERFECTION! Adoption is such a beautiful – amazing – wondrous gift! It’s amazing when you think that God KNEW that *J* would be with Julie and her family – long before any of them knew it!

Amy – thank you SO MUCH for nominating Julie and her amazing family!

Julie – thank you for sharing your heart with me and for being an amazing testimony of love and commitment!

 

 

BEAUTIFUL WINNERS

Filed under: adoption,beautiful,contest,family,just because,newsworthy,portraits — admin at 1:02 am on Friday, March 2, 2012

So the “contest” got off to a pretty slow start – then it totally overshot my expectations!

Here’s the thing – I never wanted to be a photographer for the money – sure – I needed to make money to make it work and quit my secretary job – but it was never because of money.

God has blessed me – us – immensely in this beautiful journey! The moment I stop giving back that blessing is the moment I need to stop doing this “job” -

ANYWAY -

This one was a tough one – I read through them and then through them again – and then again – narrowing it down to 3 winners – not the normal 2!

Before I announce the winners I want to say THANK YOU to everyone that submitted a family for the contest. I loved reading all your entries and have been blessed because of it!

For those of you who did submit a family and that family didn’t win the FREE session – I am offering a special!

If you would like to gift that family a session you can get that session at a discounted rate of $125 (travel may have to be added on) if you send the deposit by 3.31.2012!

So let me know via email – dcbarden@gmail.com!

CONGRATS to the -

*B* family – Phil & Michelle and their kiddos!

*M* family – Rich & Julie and their kiddos!

*W* family – Ben & Beth and their kiddos!

Some awesome people love you!

Thank you again SO MUCH! I cannot wait for BEAUTIFUL 2013!