September 28, 2016

Adoption: Where are we at in the process?

"So, where are you guys at in the adoption process?"

Lately, we've gotten a lot of questions like this!

Well, the paperwork and interviews are done. The home study is done, too. And now we are waiting for an expectant mother to choose us to be her baby’s family!

We’ll most likely bring our baby home from the hospital … what an exciting day that will be! We have requested an open adoption, which is how most domestic infant adoptions are done these days. What this means is that the expectant mother will choose us, and we’ll keep in touch either through letters/photos or regular in-person visits. Research has shown that keeping this communication open and having a relationship with the birth family is really beneficial to kids … and we are all about what is best for our son or daughter!

We know that open adoption may feel a little scary, especially if you don't know much about it. But let us assure you that open adoption is NOT co-parenting. The birth parent(s) surrender their parental rights in court one month after the baby is placed with us (this is law in Michigan). After that time, we will be our baby’s legal parents and make all decisions regarding their health, education, discipline, welfare, etc.

If you have any questions, we are more than happy to talk about these next steps in our journey. But honestly, we probably won’t have much by way of updates until we are matched with an expectant mother and bring our baby home!

This waiting period is a lot like a pregnancy, except that we have no idea how long it will last! We could be chosen next week, or it could take several years for the right expectant mother to come along. In the meantime, your support and prayers mean the world to us. We're excited about growing our family, and we know you all will welcome our baby with open arms when he or she finally arrives!

With love,

Laurel and Dave

P.S. In case you missed the news, we now have TWO "fur babies" at home. Say hello to our rescue Chihuahua mix, Bella!


August 1, 2016

The More Painful Side of Adoption

We have seen God move in tremendous ways over the past year as we began preparing our hearts and lives for the arrival of Baby Dykema. Dave and I saved about half of the $21,000 we need for our adoption. And the rest has been coming in through various fundraisers and out-of-the-blue gifts from friends and family. We only have about $1,300 left to raise. Praise God! As I reflect on this year, there’s so much to be grateful for!

At the same time, honestly, this road hasn’t been all roses and butterflies. There have been plenty of tears and pangs of heartache, too …

  • There are nights I sit alone in my rocking chair in our silent house, aching to hold my baby … longing to rock and sing him/her to sleep. 
  • When we get information about an expectant birth mother, trying not to get too excited … reminding ourselves that even though there’s a chance she could pick us, many couples wait a year or more before having a baby placed with them.
  • Seeing Dave make silly faces and sit right on the ground to play with kids at family events. Thinking about how amazing it’s going to be when he gets to be a dad and how excited I am to parent with him.
  • Sometimes, when I open Facebook to pictures of friends’ babies … I feel a pang wondering how long it will be until our baby comes home.

And while many people are excited about our journey of adoption, not everyone is. I have been pretty blown away by how many people … even near-strangers … will offer up their opinions about how you are “supposed” to build your family. Most of the time, we are able to shrug off these comments, but they do sting. We know these people usually mean well. And we try to be helpful and gracious, understanding that not everyone shares our heart for adoption.

I thought it might be good to share some of the common questions we are getting and how we answer them, so I have listed some of them below: 

“Well, there’s just nothing like having one of your own.” AND “Having a baby who looks like you is so special. Why wouldn’t you want that?” 
RESPONSE: Yes, we know that many couples’ first choice is to have biological kids. Maybe we will someday … maybe not. We both strongly feel God’s call on our lives to adopt, and we are so excited about this method of building our family. Ridiculously excited! It’s not important to us to have kids that look like us or share our DNA.

“So, what’s the problem? Are you struggling with infertility?”
RESPONSE: This is probably the #1 question I have been asked over the past year. What bothers me about this question is that many people assume that adoption is a “second choice” ... something that you pursue only if you can’t have biological kids. This is not the case for us. We have determined that adoption is our first choice … something that we are more interested in doing than having biological kids. And you know, that is a tremendously special thing to be able to share with our adopted child someday!

“It’s wrong to use any kind of birth control. Have you prayed to God about this?”
RESPONSE: Everyone is entitled to their opinion about birth control. But please don’t try to make us feel guilty about choosing to grow our family through adoption, even if it’s not how you would choose to do things yourself. (And yes, over the years, we have been praying hard about God's direction for our family, and God has put the passion to adopt a baby in both our hearts.)

“Why would you want to go through the expensive process of adopting an infant? You know there are so many kids in the foster care system who are just waiting for families! And that’s free!”
RESPONSE: This is something Dave and I have had a LOT of conversations about. Adopting from foster care is certainly much less expensive. But because we will be first-time parents, we thought it would be wonderful to start out with a baby. (We have no parenting experience … and we figured starting with a newborn would be a good way to get that! That’s how most people get parenting experience, right?)  :)

“Why on earth would you choose to do an open adoption? Aren’t you afraid that the birth mother might try to take him/her back?!”
RESPONSE: Believe it or not, there are very few closed adoptions these days. Research shows that it’s healthier for kids to have some connection with their biological family, and we would love to be able to provide that to our kiddo. It might be through letters and pictures … or in-person visits. Either way, whatever is best for our son or daughter is definitely what we want to do. PLUS, just think about how easy it is to get an abortion these days! This birth mom is making a tremendously self-sacrificial and loving choice. First, in giving birth to her baby. And second, in creating an adoption plan for a little one that she is not prepared to parent at this time. Dave and I have a huge respect and love for birth parents, and if possible, we want them to know their son or daughter. (This doesn’t mean they co-parent or something like that … and they cannot take the baby away from us. It’s just more people to love on our child, and who doesn’t want that?!)

I hope this is helpful and shows you a different side of our adoption process. As always, we appreciate your prayers for us … as well as our baby and any of his/her biological family that may be involved in the process. We are so excited to see what God does this year … and hoping that this is the year that brings Baby Dykema into our lives!

Much love to you all,

Laurel

April 30, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 30

A Beautiful Dead End

Kicking up dusty dirt
The path ends in lush, dewy grass
A colorful tree canopy conceals the sky
A hush descends in the twilight
As a fairy peeks out

Some dead ends are beautiful.



April 29, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 29

Things I Like

Lima beans, strings, wings
Open doors, dinosaurs, crawling on all fours
Fluffy stuff, muffs, and cream puffs.

April 28, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 28

Important Day

Celebration
Happy, bright
Eating, singing, dancing
Balloons, smiles, candles, cake
Aging, clapping, cheering
Annual, happy
Birthday

April 27, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 27

Into the Blue

Take off into the blue
Ocean with silky strokes
Swim to a nearby dolphin
Laughing together in the waves


April 26, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 26

I Loved You Before You Were Born

Did you know I loved you
Before you were born?

While you were still tiny
And growing in a tummy
My love for you grew and grew in my heart
I couldn't wait to be your Mommy!

After we got married,
Daddy and I knew
Our family wasn't complete yet
We needed you!
We waited and prayed
And got your room all ready
With a bed, clothes, and shoes
And a bear named Teddy.

I was so excited to meet you
And hug you close
To hold your little hands
And count your little toes
To whisper in your ear
Mommy loves you
Forever and ever
And as you grew,
To read bedtime stories
And sing you to sleep
Bake cookies together
And make sand castles on the beach.

God had a special purpose
In mind when he created you
I'm so happy you're in our family
Part of the Dykema crew.

April 25, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 25

Exercise for Kids

Jumping rope
Rope climbing
Climbing to the stop of the slide
Slide down that tree like a monkey
Monkey bar swinging
Swinging the bat at baseball practice
Practice hopscotch.

April 24, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 24

Lost Puppy

My puppy is 3 years old
With spots

And a blue ribbon
Tied around his neck

He likes having
His ears scratched

He was riding in my
Newspaper delivery bag

But he fell out
On your porch

Thanks for
Returning him

I will sleep tonight
With his soft plush body

And plastic head
Against my cheek.

April 23, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 23

Late for School

Sliding across tile
In fuzzy socks
Strapping on
My light-up shoes
Okay, now
I'm ready for school.

April 22, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 22

Starlight Hair

The bright flashlight
Beams straight up
Into the night sky

“Mommy,” she asks
“Do you think my
Light is traveling all the way
Into space
Right now?”

“I don’t know, honey,” I say
“But the lights of the stars
Traveled all the way
Down here to kiss your hair.
See? You have starlight hair.”

April 21, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 21

Dragon's Shadow

Past old oak doors
A dragon soars
Across pools of long ago
And scoops moon ash
With shadowy claws


April 20, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 20

Unsaid

Yawning sun peeks over the horizon
Ears of corn bob in the breeze
Listening to bumblebees
Lollipops in a bright hue
Overlook the golden lake blue
What, then, is my favorite color?

April 19, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 19

Summer Sprinkler

A cool spray of water
Tickles my skin

Wet grass
Sticks to my bare toes

Orange popsicle juice
Runs down my chin

Hello, summer
I’m glad you’ve come again.

April 18, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 18

Mommy's Job

Clicking keyboard
Whooshing door
Jingling phone
Whining printer
Pen tapping paper

These are the sounds
Of Mommy's office job.

April 17, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 17

The Moon

The gray cloud unveils
A glowing comma resting
In a black blanket

April 16, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 16

Pie at Rose's

My favorite pie at Rose's
Is like a peanut butter cup
Wrapped in Oreos
And drizzled with melty chocolate
Mmmmmm


April 15, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 15

Night

My pillow is nearly flat
I toss and turn
With magic ringing in my ears

A simple paper note
And my tooth
Await the fairy.


April 14, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 14

Recess as an Ant

If I were an ant
At recess

I’d skitter across the grass
Playing catch with a tiny seed

I’d burrow a tiny hole
To hide during Hide and Seek

I’d find a cricket
To teach me to sing

I’d snack on a tasty leaf
Then nap under tiny twigs.

April 13, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 13

Last Place

I was last place in the footrace
today at school

But it didn’t matter

Breathing hard
Feet nearly flying
Sweat dripping
I looked up to see
Mom and Dad cheering

Even though I wasn’t as fast
as the other kids,
I’m proud of myself
for finishing the race.

April 12, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 12

A Silly Circumstance

Under my bed,
My shoes had a birthday
And all my fish crackers swam away.

Up on the ceiling,
I saw in a glance
That my socks had started to dance.

Standing in the middle,
I spun in circles
And everything turned purple!

In my dream.

April 11, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 11

I Don't Need a Nap

Sleepy, drooping, tired,
They say they need a break
To shut their eyes
But I'm wide awake

So, I sit in my room
Thinking naps are quite silly
Grownups get tired a lot
But I don't think I'll be that way really

I count the paper stars
Above my head
And then color a picture
Very red

My head starts to droop
What's this?
Now closing my eyes
Sounds like bliss

*YAWN*

Into my blanket
I wrap
I guess it's
time for a nap.

April 10, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 10

Bored

Mom, I'm bored
She said with a sigh
I raised my eyebrows
And asked her why?
We have a big backyard
And lots of toys
Puzzles, games, and crafts
To enjoy

But, I said,
With a twinkle in my eye
If you can't find something to do
No matter how you try
You could clean your room
Or mop the floors
You could match the socks
And put them in drawers

Um, she said, I just remembered
I could play with my teapot
I guess I'm not
As bored as I thought!

April 9, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 9

Tree-house Hideout

A telescope gives away approaching pirates
And parents

This stick doubles as a sword
And walking cane

These old wood walls keep out the rain
And giant mutant bugs

A flashlight brightens the space
And casts dancing shadows on the walls

The rope ladder can be pulled up to keep out baby sisters
And hungry bears

If you ever wonder where I am
Just peer up into this tree
And you'll see me!


April 8, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 8

Doodles

As I sit here and doodle
Munching on some strudel
Swirly designs make noodles
And puffy clouds become poodles
As I sit here and doodle

April 7, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 7

Urban Wheels

Hi, my name is Pete
I steer down the street
In my sleek red ride
With a black leather seat
I never mind the heat
Listenin’ to my beats
I wave to the neighbors
As I pedal with my feet

April 6, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 6




Whimsy in the Forest

This dirt road is newly shoveled
Bare branches
bear clumps of snow

Whimsy runs ahead on the puffy ground
Wondering what is taking me so long
He dances in dizzying circles
And barks at me to catch up!

A crooked lamppost lights our way.





April 5, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 5

First Snowfall

Silvery flakes descend
In the early morning hush

I clap my hands in wonder
Not a footprint
Mars this perfect white blanket
Set with millions of tiny diamonds

Surrounded by these glittering jewels
I am queen of the world.

April 4, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 4

Planets

Orbit
Dark, cold
Silent, spinning, circling,
Feeling a bit dizzy
Pattern

April 3, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 3

Three Old Oceans

Three old oceans
Hug the shore
Revealing salty treasures, but
Every pearl is hidden well
Encased on the ocean floor

Operas sung
Loud in the deep
Doubly inspire the whales to leap

Overhead, seagulls cry while
Careful crabs crawl the rocks below
Each starfish sways in
A sandy rhythm
Now, the sun rests on the horizon
So I slowly row home


April 2, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 2

The Wildflower

Shhh! She said
This wispy wildflower
Has secret power

I plucked the stem in a bower
Near an ivory tower
In a meteor shower

Its delicate strength
can make you run
100 miles an hour!


April 1, 2016

April Poem-A-Day Challenge: Day 1

The Donut Tree

Grow your own donut tree
Folks, right here’s the key
This tiny round seed
Grows up into a donut tree
Yes, siree

Cinnamon, sprinkle, custard, creme—
Try a bite and you’ll agree
This donut’s the ideal
Start to any meal!

Young man, step up and see
Feel these leaves so feathery
And taste this donut sweet as honey
Perfect for afternoon tea
Just like they do in Hawaii

Yes, siree
I guarantee ain’t nobody seen
Such a soft, tasty donut tree
Ma’am, these donut seeds
Come direct from Tennessee

Buy one for your sonny
Today, I’ll sell it to you cheap
Grow him his own grand donut tree!




March 11, 2016

Poem-A-Day Challenge 2016

I'm gearing up for another Poem-A-Day Challenge!

Want to join me?

This year, I'm going to be participating in the April Poem-A-Day Challenge through Writer's Digest. So excited! It's definitely a challenging discipline, though, writing one new poem every day for a month.

Like I did last year, I'll be posting all my new poems right here on my blog. Just a fair warning, not all will be of the same caliber.  ;)  But it's gonna be fun anyway, so stop back and read the poems I come up with whenever you can. And if you visit, leave a comment! I love to hear from you guys.

I asked some of my friends to vote on their favorite poem that I wrote during my April PAD challenge last year, and this was the winner. So, here's a little taste of the poetry that'll be hitting this blog next month. Enjoy!


AMIA

Amia, a fairy, pins hair in a plait
Whilst sipping a tin can
Admiring light wings
And a tail shining as a star

A bit vain in a glass
As rain drips again
In a fairy lair


January 23, 2016

Abortion

Today, I'm going to share my feelings about a controversial issue: abortion.

With the Roe vs. Wade anniversary yesterday, social media seems to have blown up with the same old debate. I pulled together some of the most common pro-choice arguments I saw and spent a little time reflecting and responding to them individually here.

Pro-choice advocates argue that abortions are okay because ...

... the baby has a disability.
Okay, this is very intensely personal. I have a mild disability myself. And some of my very good friends over the years have had varying levels of disabilities. It blows my mind that there are people in the world who say, "Well, they won't be 'normal,' so they don't deserve to live." What? What kind of logic is that? Some of my favorite people in the world have disabilities.

... the baby might suffer abuse, neglect, and/or poverty.
So, you're saying that it's better to kill a baby than allow it to suffer? Based on a hypothetical future (of suffering), you say this baby shouldn't be allowed to live. The truth is, we all go through trying times, horrific heartache, and suffering in life, but that doesn't mean we are DEFINED by them. Suffering does NOT equal a terrible life.

... there are so many kids who need to be adopted already in the foster care system.
Yes, that's true. But listen to what you're saying here: "There are many in the foster care system without permanent families. Therefore, this baby should be killed. She doesn't deserve the chance to live or have a family; the kids already in foster care are more important." The presence of a lot of children in foster care doesn't justify the killing of unborn babies. Life isn't perfect for kids in foster care, but it's still worth living.

... our world already has an overpopulation problem.
To me, your solution to the world's overpopulation problem is equivalent to going out and murdering people in their homes. "Overpopulation" is a poor excuse to terminate a life. Of course, I don't believe that killing is ever justified, but my pacifist opinions are a different conversation.  :)

... women deserve a choice. It's their bodies!
Because I am pro-life, some people assume that I don't care at all about the mamas-to-be. This couldn't be further from the truth. My heart breaks for the girls who got pregnant because they were raped ... and for the teenagers who feel like they're not cut out to be moms. But I am begging these girls, "Don't turn your heartache into a tragedy." Taking a life is irreversible. There is support for girls in your situation. Seek out local pregnancy centers. Talk with a counselor about your options.

... those babies will grow up and just fill up our prisons.
So, what you are saying is that it's better to kill an unborn child than to have them live out a hypothetical future of crime. We have no way of knowing what choices that child is going to make in the future. It's unfair to judge him (and take his life) based on what he might do someday.

... we shouldn't judge the pregnant women who want to get an abortion. Instead, we should support and love them.
I only have a problem with the first part of this argument. You are telling me I'm not allowed to disagree. If I do, I'm "judging." This is an unfair label for someone who has a different opinion than yours. The second part of your statement, I am in 100% agreement with. Mamas-to-be need a lot of support and love, especially if they are not finding it from their friends or family or significant other.

... those unborn babies are unwanted.
Yes, some moms-to-be don't want to raise their babies. But there are SO many families in the U.S. waiting to adopt these kiddos and give them a loving home. These babies are not unwanted. And I believe that God has a plan for their lives, just like he does for mine.

60 million U.S. babies have been murdered in the past 43 years. My heart grieves for this tremendous loss of life. These babies are being killed when they could be given loving homes instead. There are so many families (like Dave and I) waiting to adopt these kids. I hope you'll join me in praying for wisdom for expectant moms and for our country today.

Meanwhile, what are you thoughts about what I said ... or about abortion in general? I'd love to hear from you!

January 19, 2016

My Travel "Bucket List"

I think of myself as pretty well-traveled.

I've been to Mexico, the D.R., Canada, the Czech Republic, Poland, and India. Two countries I'd still love to get to someday are Africa and Indonesia.

I've also seen most of the U.S. In fact, the list below are the only states I haven't traveled to yet. (Anyone who's been to these states, feel free to tell me some must-see destinations!)
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Maine
  • Wisconsin
I guess I know where to plan to travel in the coming years!  ;)

January 13, 2016

Alaska & My Favorite Animal

Sometimes, I write poetry that I don't think is very good by any poetic standards. Tonight was one of those nights.  ;)

It won't win any contests ... or maybe even any "likes" on Facebook.

But it's beautiful because it's me. I wrote it.

One of my reasons for creating this blog is to be able to express my thoughts, feelings, and yes my poetry and short stories. :) It makes me smile inside to know I have a place to share myself with the world ... even if what I write is incomplete, messy, and not my "best" work. Here, I can share what I wish. And that's a beautiful, freeing truth. I'm not trying to impress anyone, please a boss, build a following, or do anything of that nature. I'm simply saying, "Hey, this is me" to the world.

And maybe because I love to write, that's enough to make me feel happy inside.  :)

Tonight, I was thinking about how much fun Dave and I had on our honeymoon cruise. We are daydreaming about the next time we go on a cruise ... maybe for our 10-year anniversary. I'd like to skip balmy breezes ... and go to Alaska! This poem I wrote might help you understand why (and reveal my favorite animal in the bargain):


I want to go on a cruise to Alaska
Not for the fine china
Entertainment
And buffets

I want to recapture the feeling ...

Not of the queasy tummy I got
when I was 7 years old
off the coast of California
afloat rolling waves

I want to feel the wonder …

Of that spray of saltwater on my face
From a creature
Who takes a deep breath of prickly air
to hum a low tune beneath the sea

I want to gasp …

As the bumpy skin breaks the surface
In a playful dance between air and waves
Oh, a fin! There, a tail!
A full-bodied, salty leap!

Even with hundreds of people crowding the rails
Somehow I feel … it’s just the whale and me.