Monday, June 29, 2015

7 Thoughts from Adoption

1) I have never loved my husband more than I do now as I see him embrace the role of being a Dad.  I love hearing him talk about our kids and all of the things he looks forward to doing with them, seeing how excited he gets as we prepare for their arrival, and listening to him talk about how much he already loves them. The other day he was talking about how he can't wait to discover what they are interested in and then helping them pursue those passions.  It's conversations like that that make me fall head over heels all over again for that boy :)  


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2) White privilege can't be denied or ignored.  Our transracial adoption has really begun to open my eyes to this reality.  Many of us, if not most of us, don't recognize the daily privileges we have in this country simply because of our white skin.  I'm not simply talking about racism, where people seek out and assert privilege over a race other than their own, however, I am talking about the unspoken, unintentional, often unnoticed advantages we have here because we are white.   Yes this is more evident in certain parts of the country than others, but truthfully, it's everywhere.  I have certainly been one to be oblivious in many ways to this in the past, and as I learn more about it, I feel a sincere obligation to continue learning and find the best ways to advocate on behalf of my children.


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3) Adoptive parents also grieve the loss of their children's birth parents.  I have read a ton about helping children through the grieving process, and for the kids, this is a process that I expect to work through with them and I feel prepared to handle. However, for myself, this really snuck up on me.  I have had a very difficult time these past couple of weeks as I think about our children's biological parents. It breaks my heart into a million pieces that they don't get to see their beautiful children grow up.  Here we are, in the midst of the most wonderful blessing we could ever imagine, and yet sometimes we forget that our blessing is born from unthinkable tragedy.  I use to only reflect on the loss that the children experience, but as I step forward as their mom, I now also view their story from the eyes of a parent. It's painful in so many ways.  I wish their birth parents could know that we will love their little children fiercely, raise them to remember and honor them and their Ethiopian family and heritage, and that we will provide for them the very best life we possibly can. We will face a lifetime of questions, many that will forever go unanswered.  We know very little about their mom and dad, and hope to learn more from the memories our kids carry with them.  Adoption is the most wonderful thing, but the intense history behind any adoption story is very tough.


4) The adoption community is unlike any other network of support I have ever been a part of.  It's amazing, really.  I have met some of the most wonderful people through online support groups that I have been added into.  I can't even tell you how many moms have spent hours on the phone with me or writing back and forth via email to answer my questions, give me advice, share experiences, etc. There is even a group for learning how style and care for African American hair and skin-super helpful! These families have blessed me so much over the course of our adoption process as they have either been through it or are currently in the process alongside of us, and I really couldn't ask for a more supportive community to surround ourselves with as we continue to move forward.


5) Expectations are everything.  I don't listen to timelines anymore.  If you tell us we can expect something by such-and such-date, I'm going to add on a few extra months to that just to be safe (though I still pray for a much faster result--always hope but never expect).  Safe from what?  Frustration, mostly.  In a process that is already so stinkin' long, there is nothing worse than passing an expected due date on the calendar with no end in sight for the completion of the task.  Adoption is so unpredictable considering there are so many different people who have their hands in the process, and I would much rather be surprised in a positive way with something taking less time than predicted than vice-versa.  This is true with anything in life, really.  "Expectations are the root of all headache." -Shakespeare


6) God is so good with surprises!  Three kids, really?!  Biological siblings, God? Our agency told us that wasn't possible! SURPRISE!  We were just as surprised as the rest of you probably are, but in the best possible way!  This is truly a dream come true for me.  And this goes back to #1 as well when I talked about Patrick--when I first approached him with this opportunity I wasn't sure how he would react to the idea of 3 kids, but here we are now and he and I both couldn't be any more excited.  Could I be married to anyone more perfect for me?  NO! The ways that God has worked in both of us to bring this whole adoption together amazes me.



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7) "Your life's work is where the needs of the world and the joys of your heart intersect." I'm not sure where I read this quote, but I wrote it in my journal almost six years ago and it has been something that I have thought a lot about ever since.  I wrote this when I was living in Texas and working as a foster mom with an agency there, and at the time, I remember very clearly feeling called towards adoption.  Today, this quote has come alive for me.  It finally fully makes sense.  I knew when I read this that I needed to discover or create this connection in my own life. My purpose.  My life's work.  I am so grateful for the journey that has brought me here.




AleenaRooyakker_XoXo_M

Monday, June 15, 2015

Adoption Story--We Accepted a Referral!!!

This past month, all of my time, energy, focus, thoughts, and dreams have been about one thing and one thing only…our adoption story. After a year and a half of pursing adoption and dreaming daily about who our children would be, we finally know! You may recall that our original plan was to adopt two children under 4 years old. Well, God had a much greater plan in store for us—the perfect plan! Patrick and I are being blessed with three of the most precious biological siblings—two girls and a boy—ages 3-9! We are unable to share much online at this time, but I simply couldn’t wait to share the news with all of you who have been following our adoption, praying for us, and who have joined us in this incredible journey!


 

To be completely honest I don’t even know how to put my feelings into words right now. I have never felt more confident, blessed, excited, or happy in my entire life. My heart feels so full that I think it could just pop right out of my chest. I look at our children’s sweet, joyful pictures a thousand times a day and I have somehow instantly become one of those people who cry about everything—LOL. Seriously though, I start crying when I see their photos, when I think about their past, when I mailed off their first care packages, when I went to talk to their school, when I think about their birth parents, as we prepare their bedrooms, as we shop for their clothes…I mean, I’m an emotional wreck over here (shoot…I’ve got tears running down my face as I write this!)!


IMG_6528 These are the start to our first care packages we sent the kids. We sent two outfits each, toys, toothbrushes, photo books so they can see who their new mommy and daddy are and the house they will be living in, sunglasses, ring-pops, and more!  You wouldn't believe how much I squeezed into those little backpacks :)


Don’t get me wrong, we certainly know there will be many challenges ahead for our family, and we are preparing the best that we can for all of the unknowns that lie ahead. As I look back on everything that has led us to where we are today, I truly believe this is something God has prepared us for over the course of our entire lives—I know without a shadow of doubt that raising these beautiful children is our purpose and I feel truly honored to get to be their mom.



I have two daughters and a son in Ethiopia right now!!! Ahhhhhhhhh :) I can't even believe this is really happening!



So you’re probably wondering when we get to bring them home! Unfortunately the process from here is still quite long. We are hoping to fly to Ethiopia for our first trip around November to meet the kids, go through court, and legally adopt. Once that happens, we have to wait for their exit visas to be issued, which can take another couple of months. Hopefully we will have them home with us by January! This timeline is only an estimate based on time-frames of other families who have finalized their adoptions recently with our agency. We will certainly continue to pray for a faster process—we just cant wait to meet and love on these kiddos!



I know my adoption blog has been very inconsistent with only a few posts here and there. However, this month is when things started to get really exciting so I am sure that I will have a lot more to share with you over the coming months! Thanks to all of you—friends and family—for being the best support system we could ever ask for!


AleenaRooyakker_XoXo_M

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bikini-Ready Meal Plans: Complete meal plans to get you ready for the summer fun!

If you can relate to the sweet baby in the photo above, I totally get it!



Has it ever been so bad that you have made excuses why you couldn’t participate in a fun summer activity because you didn’t want people to see you in a bathing suit?



This was ME for so many years! I would pack on a few (or often more than a few) pounds over the winter months and then before I knew it, summer was staring me right in the face and I would feel a total sense of panic wash over me.



Summer has always been one of my most favorite times of year, I LOVE the sunshine, but I have never been able to fully enjoy it because for as long as I can remember I have dreaded swim-suit season!



Last year, I had finally had enough! I decided that this was NOT how I wanted to live my life. I wanted to be healthy, feel confident, be happy with who I was, and never feel the need to skip out on the fun! And so I made a decision. I made a commitment. And I changed my life.



Taking control of my health and fitness has transformed me in so many ways; far beyond my physical appearance. I want these same transformations for you.



Did you know that studies have shown that over 75% of our weight loss happens by properly nourishing our bodies? Unfortunately, for many of us, when summer shows up we jump into restrictive, temporary diets in order to get quick results, but we end up slowing our metabolism in the process and increasing our cravings, all of which becomes a very dangerous cycle for us.



So today I want to give you some healthy and balanced meal plan options, very similar to the ones that I have personally used to get my own results, to help you get on track with your nutrition. Do me a favor though, as you use these plans, start to think of this as a lifestyle way of eating, not a diet. My goal is to help you adapt to healthy, and sustainable eating habits that will get you both fast and long-term results.



I have included two different meal plans for you below, one meat-eater plan and one vegetarian option. These are balanced plans, designed to get you enough of each necessary food group daily, and if you follow them I am willing to bet you will be feeling much happier, more confident, and ready for all of the summer fun that awaits you!






Want to create even more variety on your menu? Sign up here to receive my healthy recipes and lifestyle tips right to your inbox!



And remember, it’s simply a choice. Decide to make the commitment. I can’t wait to watch you succeed!