blue sky, black clouds (+ book giveaway)

About a week and a half ago I had a routine appointment with our midwife. No worries, no big concerns, no problems. Some back pain, some heartburn, just normal pregnancy woes. I drove home and the sky over me was blue, but a wall of black clouds loomed toward our house.

blue sky, black clouds: storms we drive into (plus book giveaway)

Cresting the top of the hill on the highway, I saw hail filtered through sunlight falling on the intersection below. Stopped at the bottom of the hill a minute later, the sun was still on me but tiny balls of snow were falling everywhere. The light turned green and cars started to move again, and every fifth vehicle coming toward me was covered in fresh snow – a clear warning of the weather we were driving into.

There was sunlight, and then darkness – sudden and startling. Hail, rain, and snow, right next to miles of sunlight. It was temperamental Alaska in all her glory.

It was like adoption, like life: Sometimes we have warning, and other times we have no clue what we’re driving into. Four days later I had emergency surgery at 27 weeks pregnant.

And I’m fine. And our baby, praise God, is fine. But the recovery has been wild, and I’m not talking about the incisions or anything like that – I’m talking about two of our kiddos who have a hard time handling uproar that isn’t caused by their own behavior, and we’ve had a roller coaster of a week. Chiaroscuro, light and dark, sunshine and hail.


The next day he gave us the virtual middle finger, right and left, at every opportunity. That love thing is terrifying, don’t you know – let’s not have too much of that.

Reagan’s had a rough week, too. One thing after another, there’s been disobedience and sneaky misbehavior. Outright defiance over silly things, like putting away clothes.

Iree came downstairs this afternoon, and said, “Mom, Reagan’s up there saying, ‘Mommy hit me’ and ‘Mommy flick me.’ And she’s hitting and flicking herself…and her laundry is still all over the floor.”

And, oh, it made me angry. The part of me that was raised, Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about wanted to lash out at her for this.

But it would play right into the enemy’s hands, because it’s what she remembers, still, years later. Love is scary, so let’s create anger because anger is safe and familiar. Let’s push away Mommy before she can leave us. She then refused dinner and threw up all over her bed. But we’ve had months of progress since the last time she did that during her last big regression. We know there is more sunlight ahead.

“I’m just going to love him.”

“That’s the hard way,” she said.

“With God’s help, I want to be something like grace to him. I don’t know how the shrink stuff works and I don’t want to pretend to know or try a bunch of fashionable strategies. So, if it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, maybe he and I will both learn something in spite of ourselves.”

“You know he’s frightened of attachment, of any real closeness. It’s what he wants most from you, but he’ll keep trying to push you away.”

“I’m not going away.”

– Jan Karon, Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good

There are adoptive, special needs, and foster families out there who are not fine, who feel alone, who are treading water. They need hope, support, and a holy stubbornness to love when loving is hardest. They need to know that loving may look different from what they imagined, but that it still works. They need to know that people are in their lane, driving with them into the same weather – some miles ahead, some miles behind – and we carry flares, extra blankets, and jumper cables. They need to know they are not alone.

How can we encourage adoptive families? Maybe with a forecast, of sorts, from those who’ve weathered the storm.

adoption book bundle giveaway

Mary Ostyn is a mama of ten children (four biological and six adopted) who has walked through the gamut of adoption – domestic and foreign, easy and hard, new baby and older child, siblings and special needs. She writes with compassion and honesty. A few months ago she sent me her new book Forever Mom, and I wish it had been available when we were in the adoption process. In my (only slightly-biased) opinion, the combined information in Forever Mom and Upside Down prepares adoptive families far more than most of the required reading for homestudies and trainings that are compiled by really smart people with letters after their names but no real adoptive or special needs parenting experience.

I’ve been honored to partner with Mary in bundling our books together and giving them away to our readers. She hosted her giveaway a few weeks ago, and I meant to host mine last week…but then decided to not commit to anything while doped up on narcotics. So here we are, a week late, but much more lucid.

Forever Mom & Upside Down bundle giveaway

To enter this giveaway, you can do any or all of the following:

– Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, and come back here to comment and let me know. No need to comment separately every time; I will tally carefully. :)

– Tell me about your connection to adoption, foster care, or special needs in the comments below.

I’ll randomly draw a winner on Tuesday, April 28th. Offer limited to US residents who have a healthy appreciation of chocolate, coffee, or ice cream only.

And, if you’d like to know more about that emergency we had last week, subscribe to my free newsletter. The gory details (not really) and what He told me during pain worse than natural childbirth will be in there and headed to your inbox by the end of the month. Also, we have another surgery scheduled at the end of this week, though we’ve been informed that the hospital does not give out punchcards. We would love to have you pray for us through the weather ahead…thanks so much. xoxo

UPDATE AND WINNER! Kelsey Jast – congrats! Contact me with your address and I’ll get these in the mail this week. :) Thanks!


blue sky, black clouds (+ book giveaway) — 18 Comments

  1. We are waiting the arrival of our sweet little girl through a domestic adoption. She will be our 4th but the 1st adopted! We can’t wait.

  2. I am an adoptive Mama to a 9 year old boy that God lead us to through the foster care system. We are running the gamut of special needs and trying to find a diagnosis right now with a good dose of RAD thrown in for fun.

  3. Adoption and foster care are close to my heart. I adopted my youngest son from foster care lasted year.

  4. Thank You for your passion and openness, it helps! It has been one of those weeks here too! I shared on facebook. I will be praying for your sweet baby and family : ). I also appreciate homemade chocolate she’ll and coconut ice cream, green tea ice cream, and lots of coffee in case that gives me more points lol. I’m sure it will be well placed wherever it goes!

  5. Our youngest granddaughter, who has special needs, was adopted from overseas about 4½ years ago.

  6. Shared on FB. Just discovered your blog. Beautifully encouraging. I have been a foster patent in the past and my husband and I are now getting ready to open our home for foster to adopt. We have been through an adoption that wasn’t and are finally ready to journey that road again.

  7. Now divorced momma…adopted 13 years ago…fetal alcohol syndrome. Praising God for the miracle of getting through each day.

  8. Shared on Facebook, Can’t wait to read more when I have a free moment and some chocolate! But my kiddo calls- adopted from foster care last year!

  9. Pingback: Book giveaway: Every Bitter Thing | Owlhaven

  10. I shared on FB & pinned on Pinterest. Sorry to hear about your rough week. My husband & I have been doing foster care for almost 5 years. We have 8 kids. 2 bio, 4 adopted, 1 legal guardianship (adopting when she is 18) & 1 foster. The last 4 years have been been a wild ride. Also, coffee is a must for survival. ;)

  11. Shared on Facebook. We adopted a “street kid” who we thought was about 4… turns out she was almost 7. We went from being the “perfect” family of four, one boy and one girl, to a disoriented family of 5, dizzy from all the trials we never even knew were even possibilities. It’s been a roller coaster just over a year and a half. But God is faithful and He uses posts and books like this one to bring a breath of fresh air on the toughest of days.

    Thanks for being a voice!

  12. Once we made the leap and decided to adopt, I stopped reading all scary-yet-honest blog posts; fear was not a friend during our wait. Our Ethiopian girls have been home for 8 months now and your words of experience have been helpful instead of fear-inducing. I’ve appreciated the sense that we’re not completely alone and misunderstood, even though it often feels that way.
    I’d LOVE to be the winner. Coffee and only completely dark, not-very-sweet chocolate are some of my favorite treats. Ice cream, however, just makes me sick. Literally. Sorry. Can I still be in the draw?? :-D

  13. Shared on facebook! Okay, so you know we adopted a son from Bulgaria last August, and your blog and e-book version of Upside Down has been so helpful to us. AND, Cappucino Chunky Chocolate (from Braums…do you have Braums in Alaska? I sincerely hope so!) has been my favorite ice cream flavor for 22 years. That’s coffee, chocolate and ice cream all rolled into one. :) I definitely qualify.

  14. I shared this on Facebook.
    I’m a weary, “this isn’t what I expected” adoptive mom of a special needs child.
    I appreciate your openness. Thank you.

  15. Our daughter (now 2.5) was placed with us at 8 months. Adoption finalized April 2014. Ready to get on the adoption bandwagon again ;) Praying for you in all kinds of weather…

  16. I have learned so much about adoption through your blog posts. While we await a court date to bring our three Ethiopian children home, I often mentally replay scenarios you’ve shared. I hope and pray I will respond with as much perseverance and grace! Blessings on you and your family.