Saturday, January 6, 2018


My brain is spinning.

Our home study is complete.  Now we hurry up and wait for a referral. Then we hurry up and wait for a lot of paperwork and procedures to bring said babe home.

Adoption is weird.  When you are pregnant, you don't get to tell God what you can handle.  Let's be real, while I may think I know my own abilities and limits, we often lean towards the comfortable and don't jump head first into the challenging.  When you get pregnant with a baby with high needs, medical or development...or something catastrophic happens to your nice and neat little family, you pony up.  You get on board, and you figure it out.

Honest truth, I don't know that I would have chosen Grayson.  Of course now I cannot imagine our family without him.  If I was told to what his first few years of life would entail, or if I had known my mom would have a heart attack and die 4 months after his birth, I might have paused that whole baby making idea.  Our life was going so very well in the worldly sense.  We had completed masters degrees, we had jobs in fields that we loved, our families were all healthy-ish and happy-ish.  And then life happened and our comfort was drastically interrupted.  As it needed to be.

Grayson has humbled us.  He has challenged us.  He has made us question our abilities and our intelligence.  But he also grew us and loved us.  That little life showed us we were capable of much more than we ever would have thought. Having him in such a tumultuous season of our life was perfectly ordained.  We learned that we can do hard things and we can do them well.  He was such a sweet spot in such a hard season, and we lived to tell the tale.

Choosing to check off things like "birth parents with severe delays," and "major and minor cardiac conditions," and "fetal exposure to alcohol" feels crazy.  Because it all sounds really freaking hard.  Super hard. But the kid whose parent's have severe delays, who may have inherited said delays, is still a kid.  It's still a life, with as much inherit human value as Asher and Grayson.  And those boys are invaluable to me.  So even though being open to hard things seems crazy, it also seems so necessary and so right.

The more I learn about adoption, the more my heart breaks.  There is a large part of me that wants to run away from this process because of the injustice of it all.  Much of what I have learned about adoptions from Korea (as well as many other countries) include many single moms needing to place their babies up for adoption because they cannot afford to raise them. What in the actual expletive?

Who am I?  Who are we to live this life of lavish privilege to be able to afford another baby with ample friends and community at our side when other mommas are handing their babes over out of love to try and give the child a better shot at life.  I want to vomit in my mouth.

There has got to be a better way.  I need to continue to learn and to research and find ways to support moms keeping their babies.  Because while we feel called to adopt and make the life of at least one child better, there are some major systemic issues in place that I had never thought about before, but now they weigh heavy on my heart. Adoption is hard and beautiful and loving and challenging. It’s all the things in one single breath. And while there are a vast number of reasons that adoption exists, it seems that both immense grief and love lie in the center of many adoptive situations.

So, we as a family will keep saying yes to the hard things.

We will continue to share our abundance.

And we will continue to learn.

Those are my new years goals.

That and to become and midwife and adopt a baby.  NBD.

I can jokingly say that because it is crazy and true. Because we are fortunate enough to have people and resources and safety and love.  And I want to share it all. Both with the little life who we hope will join our family, as well as the multitude we encounter and interact with on a daily basis.  Hoping the Noto family can make earth more like heaven in 2018.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

When you aren't picked, start planning a big party!

We were not chosen for the child we pursued.  Neither was the other family.  The committee came back and said that because of the extent of potential unknowns with this babe, they think a family with experience in international adoption and special needs would be the best fit.

Crum bums.

It has taken me awhile to write this post, as we have known since last week, because it's hard to share heart ache in a vulnerable but constructive way when you are fresh in the dumps. And, because I try to not use some of the choice words I was using in private on the interwebs.

I am not crushed about not being matched with that child, per se.  What I feel most sad about... is feeling like after reading all the charts, and saying all the prayers, and having all the conversations, we felt so much peace about moving forward. Yet this is the ending.  There have only been a handful of times in my life that such crazy decisions felt so crazy clear.  Was I hearing it wrong?  Did the plan change?  Is my heart meant to endure more pain to get to the place where it needs to be?

Who the h. e. double hockey sticks knows.  I have no clarity here.  They say there will be clarity and understanding when you have YOUR child.  Can't wait for that peace of mind likely in another 6-9 months.  Sounds freaking fantastic.

I think part of my peace came from the fact that we were moving forward with a waiting child, which comes back to our motivation to adopt.  We have an abundance, and abundance is meant to be shared.  Pursuing a waiting child felt inline with that.  I think the matching process feels more like the domestic infant adoption process due to the waiting involved.  In America, there is no shortage of families willing to take a healthy newborn.  That's awesome.  We didn't want to just add to the picking pool since we did not feel like we needed to adopt a newborn. (For those that do want to adopt a newborn-more power to you, and no judgement here.  Those babes need loving homes. I like working with babies in 12 hour shifts and then getting a two day break.  Just kidding.  Kinda.)

So waiting to be matched with a child from Korea feels like that.  It feels like we are not adopting those with the greatest need.  And the number of orphans in the world feels staggering and heart wrenching.  In actuality I think it's just the politics and legal stuff that makes the adoption and the wait take so long.  Being open to medical and developmental needs may shorten the process, but all Korean babes must be eligible for adoption in Korea for 6 months, first.  And ultimately we also need to be true to ourselves, our capabilities, and the needs of the crazies already underfoot.  They get their crazy from Jon.  Just so you know.

It is HARD to keep listening to that still small voice in the depths of your heart telling you to keep risking, keep pursuing, and keep running after something that you fully know will break you down, especially after this year has already entailed quite the breaking down process.   

But here we are.  Trusting.  Saying "yes" to the hard things.  Please circle up around us and join us in the crazy.  Remind us we are supposed to do hard things.  Abundance is meant to be shared.  And, tell us how we can love you in your hard things. 

Also, come to our party and invite everyone you know.  Please and thank you.  More details to come but mark your calendars for Feb 24th from 5-7 PM and join us at the Frisbie Center in Des Plaines.  Its a senior center.  I don't know why but I find this hilarious.  Maybe you can have a free drink if you come with full on senior citizen attire.  We are going to rock a game night and fun fair with a big raffle, bingo, face painting, hopefully some balloon animals, snacks, drinks, and lots of celebrating.  I throw a good party.  And its a good cause.  If you have any thing we can share, raffle off, or serve at our event...  or if you are willing to help us set up and run games or give me emotional support, please let me know.  I need you like Donald Trump needs hair spray. 

Life and challenge is not meant to be walked alone and we have many more miles to go.  Yet, we know the finish line is sweet and there are lessons in the journey. 

Share your abundance today, dear friends, and we will continue to share ours.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

World Adoption Day

Happy World Adoption Day from a family fresh in the game. 

We are fresh in the insecurities and unknowns.  Fresh in the waiting.  Fresh in the excitement. Fresh in the learning.

Only a few months deep and we are already learning how to wait and trust.  We are learning to trust the process and the people.  Learning to trust that God has known our family make up long before we even arrived at this decision.

Days like today are such tangible reminders that we are not the firsts to walk this road, nor will we be the last.  There are many others that chose this hard road and that have sat in the low valleys and high mountaintops that comprise the complexity of adoption.

This process takes grit. We have been blessed with opportunities in our life to strengthen our grit.  Those blessings were painful and hard.  Losing my mom and walking this year with Jon's job loss and process has broken us down to the studs and foundation. Complete rehab.  Big questions and not a lot of answers.  I am so thankful for a firm and strong foundation that did not break or even tremble in those seasons.  I am thankful for our joint foundation that was big enough to hold a lot of tears and heartbreak, while still clinging to hope and goodness.

So we are counting on that foundation and rehab to be able to weather the ups and downs of this storm with grace and sarcasm.  Because that's how we do.  Gotta cope somehow.

Despite being told we would have an interview by now for the child we pursued... we have not.  And even though we hauled you know what to submit all of our home study paperwork to help it go as quickly as possible, our social worker did not have availability that matched with ours until November 17, over three weeks after we submitted everything and paid for our home study.  The pieces we thought we could control and expedite feel so, so slow. 

But it doesn't matter.  We are here.  Sitting in the mess and the process.  We will do our part and cling to hope that if this wee one is ours, that they will be in our arms at the exact moment they are meant to be. And if we are not the family for them, it is because our son or daughter is still in the world.

It is well.

With our home study nearly complete, we are asking if you would be wiling or able to partner with us in prayer and tangible ways.  We are working on firming up a venue for a raffle fundraiser in February.  Do you or someone you know have items we could raffle? Do you own your own small business and could you put together a basket? Willing to share your vacation home or season tickets with us?  Do you know businesses willing to donate that you would be willing to share with me?  Want to host something in your home for us? We are having a garage sale in the first or second week of June.  Do you have anything you would be willing to part with for us to sell?  Would you be willing to contribute to our tax deductible fundraiser through adopt together? These are humongous, uncomfortable asks for this humongous, uncomfortable process we are undertaking.

I am thankful to have a community to pose these questions to. I am thankful that life is not meant to be lived alone, and journeys are meant to be walked arm in arm. 

So today we celebrate a day and join hands and smiles with many families further ahead.  May we link arms with them and may they pull us forward with encouragement and hope, and remind us of the treasure at the end of the journey. For those who this journey is not meant for; can you continue to shove us along and cheer us on from the sidelines as we get tired and our sarcasm outweighs our grace?  Remind us we are not alone, and together we can do big, good things.

In our family we believe love will win, all lives have value, and children belong in families.  We have been given an abundance, and abundance is meant to be shared.

Happy World Adoption Day!

Adopt Together

PS we do still have Asher but he is sick and refused to participate in our photo-op :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Stepping on the Roller Coaster

It has begun.

The ups and downs of an adoption journey that we knew we would have, but were of course subconsciously hoping we would avoid.  (Yes we know this is silly.)

In a whirlwind of crazy timing we are pursuing a child that was about to be posted to the "waiting children's website."  Normally after your home study is completed it takes 4-6 months to be matched.  We are in the interview process of our home study, so this was a wee bit sooner than we would have thought we would be in this type of predicament.

After reviewing this babe's chart, which comes with a complicated history, we consulted both with my pediatrician friends, as well as the adoption clinic from University of Chicago.  We were given a lot of "we just don't know" answers.  (Side note, the only time I have ever been to the University of Chicago Hospital was for my mom...and it is the only clinic within the city recommended by our agency.  I never wanted to go there ever again. Ever. But God is again bringing healing to the fractured areas of my heart.  The place where my mom was baptized will be where we bring our child to be cared for first. It is well.)

After I had initially read the chart, as incredibly cliche as it sounds, I felt like we had found the dear one we were meant to bring into our family. We had inquired about two kiddos about to be posted to the waiting list, and I didn't even want to read the other chart.  There was no need to.

Here in lies the difference between how Jon and I process and hear whispers from God.  I hear them, Jon then gets onboard after a lot of research and confirmation. After two weeks of mulling and praying and "can we do this?" questions, we were a go.  We emailed our excited responses back to the agency and were told that another family was also pursuing the same child.

Say what now?!?!?

So we again ask for your prayers and for you to rally around us.  We have a 50/50 shot.  I want to ask you to pray that God aligns the necessary steps for us to be this child's forever family.  But truly you should pray God places this child where they are meant to be.  In the family that can help them reach their full potential.  We just submitted our responses to the most intense questionnaire ever, where you doubt yourself the whole way through, hoping you come across in the way that you intend.

We now wait "a couple of weeks" while social workers read our answers and interview us and ultimately decide who would be best for this kiddo.

It's us.  Just sayin.

But if not, then may our child, who is likely either born or will be born in the next couple months, be surrounded by love from a foster family.  May their birth parents experience peace in their grief that surpasses human understanding.  And may we wait with patience and perseverance pursing what God has laid on our hearts.

May this child be guided exactly where they need to be.

Many people have asked about the crowd funding site... The link is on my side bar where it says "donate."

If you have time, talents, or gifts that you would be willing to donate for an auction/raffle, could you reach out to me as we start to brainstorm our main fundraiser?

And thank you. For all the encouragement thus far.  We are so, so grateful.

Monday, October 16, 2017

2017 Family Update

Honestly, I was doubtful that God could redeem 2017 in my eyes for myself and our family. Outside of losing my mom, this has been our most challenging season in our marriage and in my faith. This year has been painful and lonely. I have been running towards 2018 since early this year just trying to emotionally survive; just wanting to close the book on 2017 and feel like it was permanently in the past. I was, and am, trusting that time and grace can truly heal all wounds.

As many people know, we left the only church I’ve known in March of this year.  While it was mutual in the end, and many factors played into this decision, the process and loss of our community has been incredibly hard.

We will forever be grateful to the people from our community that reached out and loved us in amazing ways in those few months.  Your words, love, prayers, and incredibly generous gifts were blessings that we never could have imagined.

Earlier this year, in the same phone call that Jon told me he would be leaving the church, I told him we were expecting and the baby was due on his birthday. Amongst the fear of instability in finances, our community, and my faith in general, that pregnancy represented hope. And I was holding onto that thread of hope with every fiber in my being. 

And then I miscarried. 

As an OB nurse I know the commonality of miscarriage. I was not devastated by the loss of a pregnancy per se, but what it represented. What I had made it to be.  Mix that with a little bit of guilt from the relief of not bringing a new child into our lives at such a chaotic and unstable time,  and I had a nice cocktail of confusion and hurt to pour out on a nightly basis.

If Jon had remained on staff at the church, we would have again tried to get pregnant.  With so many unknowns before us, that seemed like an irresponsible choice. We chose to postpone having any more children, and my heartache continued to grow for a multitude of reasons. 

Years ago I was reading a book and it told the story of someone going to pick up their adopted children somewhere in Africa.  I read this while I was nursing sweet Asher.  In that moment, I clearly knew that we were meant to adopt one day.  I shared this with the mom’s group I was reading the book with, and I informed Jon.  8 years deep into marriage and he is no longer shocked by the things I tell him. “Hey babe, we need to adopt one day.”  (Said while chasing our toddler and nursing a newborn).  “Sure Jaci, we will talk about it later.” (Him hoping I’m kidding, but knowing that I’m not). How, when, or where did not matter since I knew it would not be immediate in that crazy season of babies…but I knew there were children in the world that needed a home, and that our family was not yet complete.  So I tucked that deep in my soul, knowing one day we would revisit it, likely for baby number 4.

After celebrating Asher’s 3rd birthday, Jon came to me one night after realizing that if we continued to wait to get pregnant, Asher would be leaving high school while our third child would be starting…and he was concerned for future Jon and the implications of that.  While we do not have complete control over the spacing of our children, we both always thought we would have them all close in age.  I’m grateful that God can use Jon’s concern for future Jon’s soul to soften his heart toward what I already knew to be true.  It was that night that Jon said that we should start inquiring about adoption with intention.  We had attended meetings in the past and for multiple reasons had taken it off the table the year before, but this time, his heart was as ready as mine.

Many conversations with different agencies led us to where we are now; pursuing the adoption of a child from South Korea. 

Herein lies the redemption of 2017 and an example of God’s goodness.  In this decision for our family, a small piece of my fractured heart has started to heal.  We have gotten many levels of confirmation that this is the path we are meant to be on, despite the many challenges it presents. And I’m so grateful that my broken heart and messy life can still be an instrument of goodness in the world.  We know the road ahead is long and difficult, but in this area of our lives, we have so much peace.  We never saw this coming.  While I knew adoption was going to be a piece of our story, I never imagined it being international or following the months that started 2017.  

With our home study nearly complete, we are finally ready to share this news and are hoping that community will come alongside us.  We do not want to walk this journey alone.  We know there will be ups and downs along the way, and it is easier to walk the hills and climb the mountains with your people.  It also significantly more fun to roll down the hills and celebrate the victories with people in your corner.

This will be a long process and we would love to invite you along.   While we have taken some time to really turn in, grieve, and process as a family, we are excited to again reach out and open up, to be able to share in this journey, and to continue to let God use us to make earth more like heaven.

I am only able to write when I have something to process, and I can guarantee that there will be much to process over the next year or more as we wade deep into these waters.  

It is projected to cost us around $36,000 to bring our son or daughter home from Korea. I'm not sure many of us have that readily available. While asking for money feels awkward and hard, not starting this process feels harder. We intend to apply for every grant and scholarship available to us, but we also humbly ask if you would be willing to support us in this venture. We are establishing a crowd funding site with our story, and intend to hold a large garage sale in the summer.  We are trying to plan a raffle night as well when we can have a "gender reveal" open house party after we are officially matched with a child.  If you have any sports tickets, would donate your time doing something you love, or items we could raffle off, that would be amazing. We are prepared for the long haul with another child in our family, likely a child with some medical or developmental needs, but would be forever grateful if our community is willing to help us bridge the gap to be able to bring them home.

I am still astounded that we are here, but we are so excited.  While we are still trying to find our footing in other areas of our life, we are completely confident in taking these steps.  Our family is not yet complete, and we know that adoption is how we are to complete it.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


My oldest is a super social kid.  He typically has multiple playmates following him around, playing whatever ridiculous game he concocts, at every playground he goes to.  He’s only three, so everything might change, but at this point he seems like the leader type.  It is essential that I get this kid on the straight and narrow so he doesn’t lead other kids into crazy town. 
I thought preschool was going to be a breeze.  I thought he would cry when I picked him up and beg to go more.  This kid has pleaded to go to school for the last year.  He has been dropped off in multiple settings, without a problem, for a long time.  I’m the mom who throws my sweet lovely newborn in the wonderful nursery at church at week three.  You want to snuggle a baby?  Deal.  I want an hour without someone touching me.  Call if he needs to eat. 
Because I must have been due for my weekly dose of humility, Grayson threw me a total curve ball and preschool drop off has been awful.  Do I know this is normal?  Yes.  Do I care? No.  It sucks.  Having someone peel your kid off your leg while they scream for you and look like they are getting kidnapped by the boogie man, is just freaking awful.  When I go check on him 10 minutes later he is playing with the other kids, but he seems so timid and reserved for him.  This may not actually be reality.  It could just be the one way glass and my heart broken lenses I’m looking through.
Logically I know he is fine and this is a transition.  My PMS queen is reigning high this week and that B won’t move out of the thrown of my emotions.   I cried the entire car ride home last Tuesday.
Sunday rolled around and we had a rough morning.  Lots of time outs and lots of snuggles.  He kept crying that he didn’t want to go to church.  I honestly didn’t have one more emotional hand off in me.  So he came into big church with me…which was fine during the music but rough immediately following as sitting still or being quiet aren't really his strong suits.  So I grabbed Asher and we all left early.  I was pretty much ready for the day to be over at 10 am.

Being inside with my children on a hard parenting day is the pits.  So we went to a new park.  I tried to forget the small fact that we live in Chicago and soon this park thing will be a season of the past.  While I was not in a headspace to meet God at church, I was able to meet Him here. 

It was September 11 and the Salvation Army was putting on a multilingual church service in the Ampi Theater next to the park.  You could hear all the music while I chased around my two buggers who just needed a morning with their mom. The weather was perfect, and all the kids G played with got along so well.  It was 2 hours of redemption that I so desperately needed.

 I’ve been so hungry for a morning with my mom.  For someone to process all this preschool crap with.  Grief sneaks in when you least expect it three years out.  After I sobbed about the drop off last Tuesday I just continued my sob fest about the fact that my mom isn't here.   

I’m hoping this weekend can again be redemptive and fill my capacity for preschool drop off back up.  Monday Grayson bit someone (which is the first time he has since he was 1, so that’s awesome). Tuesday we did the peel off.  Wednesday he stayed begrudgingly without sobbing.  So Asher swept in and screamed for a solid 10 minutes about leaving his brother and the toy trains and tried to jump out of my  arms while I wrestled him out of the building.  So over it. 

Here’s to hoping for a weekend of nurturing moments that fill up my soul and mend my heart.   If anyone wants to join my support group at 9:20 Monday-Wednesday after pre school drop off, give me a holler.  I’ll make mimosas and we can all keep our sunglasses on.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tree Tunnels and Vanity

As a vain pre teen I often found my mom annoying and embarrassing.  Did she always have to say the same thing at bedtime everynight?
Sleep tight.
See you in the morning.
I love you.
Did she have to leave notes in my lunchbox? I wasn't 5 anymore!
Why were normal things so fascinating to her?  I can vividly remember her making a huge deal out of the "tree tunnel" street.  I can't remember where we were going, but I know she would go out of her way get lost in the "tree tunnel."  I was not sure why trees that encompassed the road were so fascinating, but to her, they were.
My insecurities often held hostage my ability to question, explore, enjoy, and have fun as an adolescent. Never did I let lose and dance at a junior high dance.  What other people thought of me was significantly more important than any truth about my identity.  If I my peers considered me pretty, popular, and skinny, I was set. 
Junior high students don't have fully developed frontal lobes, and clearly mine was lagging.  Even thinking about this makes me want to go back in time and shake some sense into that little insecure girl.  I'm pretty sure my best friend almost divorced me in junior high due to the insane amount of energy I put into myself and my status.  Barf.
That same girl who was too cool for love and inclusion was the same girl that believed in Santa until 5th grade.  I never understood how our family could afford Christmas.  Santa was the explanation.
After much push back from my friends I asked my mom point blank about old St. Nick. I crushed a little bit of her soul with that question.  She knew it was coming.  She did a graceful dance about the spirit of Christmas that Santa represents, and how she believes in the magic of Christmas even if there isn't a fat man lording over toy making elves. 
I wanted to believe in the magic of Christmas.  I wanted my heart and my thoughts and myself to be bigger than my insecurities.  But in that season, the insecurities won more battles than they lost.  
Luckily my frontal lobe eventually caught up.  Life blessed me with some challenges to walk through.  My internal voice grew in size, as did my trust in it. Trusted people in my life spoke truth to me in a direct and loving way.  I have come along way from that insecure and self obsessed girl, and I know I have a ways to go.   
Today we were driving down a road that just happens to be a "tree tunnel."  I was explaining to the boys how much I loved this road, and how I couldn't wait to see it covered in snow again.
My desire to create magical experiences for my children runs deep in my bones.  My mother blessed me with magic seeking and grey hair genetics. 
Grayson then blurts out that he wants to see his big girl friend.  But he can't tell me her name because its a secret.  She loves tree tunnels and he wants her to see it.  He wants to give her a big hug, but she is too far away.  I ask him who he is talking about, and he tells me, "its her birthday next."  (We frequently talk about who's birthdays are coming up in relation to his.  First it was Asher's, then Jude's, then Grayson's.)   Never have I mentioned that it's my mom's birthday next.  It is on Wednesday.  
At this point the tears stream down my face.  I'm not sure how God gave my three year old the words I've been wanting to say for the last week, but He did.  
I too want to give my mom and hug, and experience the little things with her again.  What I wouldn't give for another birthday.  
I didn't probe.  I didn't ask for more.  I didn't want to ruin or explain away the little gift I had just received.  So instead I let the tears fall again, for the first time in a long time.  Life has gotten full, and I no longer need to grieve daily or weekly for the loss of my mom.  The wound is not as deep, and it doesn't sting as much.  
But today I remembered that its still there.  I miss her, so.