Kelli Belt and I met online in 2013, when we were both part of Holley Gerth’s “You Were Made for a God-Sized Dream” launch team that really became so much more. Then we met in person in 2014, when we shared a hotel room when some people from that same launch team gathered in Branson, Missouri. We’ve hung out in person a few times since, including a couple of months ago in Washington, D.C. because she also was an Angel in Adoption recipient. Kelli is a sweet friend, devoted momma, and advocate for others. I’m so happy she’s sharing a piece of her story here today for #PorchStories.
In the middle of our adoption wait, I wrote this in my journal: “This place is trying to break my belief.” (June 26, 2015)
After 1,624 days of dreaming of what she looked like and another two years of loving her across oceans, I was able to hold her as my daughter. She was truly the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.
The miracles that unfolded throughout our adoption process still take my breath away when I take the time to reflect, and yet there were times I thought the wait was strangling the life right out of me.
The process of adopting our daughter from Ethiopia required a dependence and faith in God in a deeper way than we had ever exercised before. I longed for this itty bitty girl to be my daughter with everything in me and the longing only grew as time passed.
The days turned into weeks, and months, and years. In that time I experienced deep losses of my mom, grandma, and best friend. The waiting paired with grief left me disenchanted with the things that used to make me happy. I struggled to really be present. Holidays, family vacations, and celebrations felt empty. Life felt suspended in time. All I wanted was my daughter home.
I thought for sure the struggle would be over once she was home. I assumed all the things that seemed so hard and impossible would be easier just by finally having her home. Yet once she was home – and even as I was living the life I had dreamed of for more than half a decade – I still felt sad, guilty, angry, and overwhelmed.
Our new journey together was full of moments that were so beautiful that my heart wanted to burst but the struggle for joy remained.
In the chaos of life, I was certain our circumstances were unique and I was alone in my struggles. As I connected with other adoptive moms, I soon found many of them struggling in the same ways. Just realizing I was not alone helped eliminate some of my shame and guilt.
Never before had it been so evident how important myself care was. If I didn’t have the bandwidth to show up for my daughter in the way she needed, then more than likely I would exacerbate whatever problem with which we are dealing.
Over time I have become more aware of how I can take care of myself. I’m constantly working on being physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy so I can model that for my girl. I’m thankful God has been so gracious to use every step of this beautifully broken journey to grow us both.
Because of my own struggle, I am passionate about supporting adoptive moms in the wait and home in the trenches so they can show up for their children as their best selves. If they are struggling, I don’t want them to feel alone. If they know deep down there is a better way, I am determined to help them find it.
Kelli Belt is a mom of three – Noah, 17; Micah, 14, and Addi May, 4. She and her husband Lloyd have been married 21 years, despite his hunting and fishing addictions. Although she makes her home in small-town Oklahoma, she’s not a stranger to exploring new places. She loves to travel, drink good coffee, and talk adoption. You can find her at kellibelt.com and on Instagram. Her new podcast “Beauty is Rising” and her first workshop, “Fill Your Cup” are both coming out next month.
I also wanted to share with y’all a treat for you as you celebrate Thanksgiving and National Adoption Awareness Month closes out. You can download the Kindle version of my book for FREE starting today and through Sunday, Nov. 25. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can read it on any electronic device with the free Kindle app.