Sunday, January 31, 2010


Maybe it was the shoes
or the way he wore his hair
his big morning smile;
his long soulful stare.

My heart skipped its beat;
I knew it was love.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Day to Celebrate

One year ago, today, my life turned right-side up. Rebekah and I cried out to God at the same moment on the same day...exactly nine months into our adoption journey. She asked me to love her son and from that day forward I've never stopped...

This morning, when I looked into those soulful eyes and saw that crazy hair, my heart cried out. Lord, thank you for choosing me.

You can read this day, last year, HERE.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I heart open adoption.

Rebekah (our birth mother, if you're just tuning in) and I (also Rebekah) are both back to work and have full schedules right now. Gone are the days of talking weekly, blogging regularly, and sharing pictures and videos back and forth, often. We do the best we can, but it seems that weeks go by before we have a block of time to call and catch up.

I headed to bed early last night, in hopes to gear up for this coming week of work, but I was missing Rebekah and decided to call her instead. The time difference makes it difficult and although I set out to only talk an hour, we chatted well past two.

Friends come in a variety. Some are needy, some are high-maintenance, some walk in and out over time, some are there everyday/through every mundane detail, and some are glued to your heart, unfettered by time or distance. Rebekah is the latter. It doesn't matter how much time passes, we always pick up right where we left off, sharing about work and kids and life.

It will never get old.

She is my son's mother. I've said it before; there is something so unique that happens when two mothers love one son. We're able to laugh and cry and enjoy Ty together as he experiences all his firsts. It's as natural as life. It's not weird or awkward or strained. I don't have to hold back my true feelings in fear of hers and there's a mutual respect in what we've done for each other. I know everyone doesn't get this. I know it looks too good to be true. I've had haters write subsequent posts about me and our relationship and they question the authenticity. It doesn't bother me. I know what we have - what we are experiencing - and it's only made possible through God's grace.

Last night, we laughed over Ty's tendency to throw premature temper tantrums and agreed on the importance of reading to him. We gushed over his cuteness and were thankful for the closeness he shares with his daddy. We talked about his early rising pattern, which Rebekah admitted was a trend in her other kids. To that I jokingly exclaimed, "So, you're responsible for this!?"

Like all moms, we think he's the smartest, cutest, most advanced baby of his time and think he has the perfect blend of biology and family.

The three of us are flying out to reunite with Rebekah and her family, this April. I was so excited last night, I had a hard time falling asleep. The Bible talks about talents and the importance of using and sharing them versus burying them away to be hidden forever. That's sort of how we (Ben and I) view Tyrus. Apart from Christ, he is the greatest treasure we've been given. We don't want to keep him close to home in fear of what may happen. We want to share him and expose him to the world. We want him to be bonded with his first family and are joy-filled that he has the opportunity to know them. We can't wait for our trip and to show everyone how much he's grown!

Because there are so many instances in which God seems absent or his presence hard to find, it's important to make a raucous when we can undeniably see his hand of goodness. When I look at the revolution that has taken place in my heart, the connections that God made to bring us our son, the relationship we have with Rebekah and her kids and extended family, and the ever present smiles on that crazy-haired little boy of mine, I say - GOD, YOU ARE GOOD.

And I say it rather loud.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ty's 7th Month

The joys of motherhood are really starting to come to life as my little man makes new discoveries about what he can do, each month. This month, he's realized he has a mind of his own and he doesn't always have to do what Mama wants him to do (this makes me smile). He's become a very curious, wiggly, sensitive, food maven and I love it. All of it.

Ty has continued to be very sensitive and easily gets his feelings hurt. Only once this month did I find myself saying, "Oh, Ty, don't be such a weenie." (The not-so-perfect parent in me, in true form.) I love his loving nature and am thankful for his desire to be close and feel secure.

Although he's not crawling, Ty's a sturdy sitter and masterful roller. He also started lunging, this month, which is great if you're looking for affection on the couch, but scary if he does it while you're one-arming him down the hall. He has taken particular notice to Mr. Moo (our uppity, I-don't-have-time-for-you, Persian) and laughs hysterically every time he catches him in sight. Ty is, surprisingly, gentle with him and as long as Mommy is right there petting his big furry belly, Mr. Moo tolerates Ty's existence.

Every noise and movement catches baby boy's attention, making feeding time much longer than necessary. Speaking of food, Tyrus is well on his way to eating us out of house and home. The kid loves food. Because we started cereal right at 4 months, he quickly graduated from purees and, now, displays a more sophisticated palette. In addition to his bottle (which he has zero interest in, but manages to suck a few ounces down at each sitting), Ty eats 4-6 ounces of food 4 times a day, with little snacks in-between. Some of his new favorite mixtures include: Blueberry Parfait (Oatmeal, Yogurt, & Blueberries), Appled Chicken with a touch of cinnamon, Tropical Fruit Smoothies, and Mango-Pear Applesauce. He's also eating several non-pureed foods - bananas, mandarin oranges, mashed & sweet potatoes, mac-n-cheese, and bread. He also eats his weight in puffs each day - Ben says he's going to turn into a puff!

Ty's holding his bottle and practicing with the sippy cup (still requires mom's help sometimes). I've been trying to put some food on his tray at every meal so he can practice picking it up. We do have a little anger management issue that we're working through. Tyrus likes to smack his tray and yell when he's ready for his next bite -mind you, I'm sitting right there and getting the next bite ready. I can often be heard saying, "Tyrus, sweetheart, you need to be patient. Mommy is getting it as fast as she can." (smile)

We have tried applying his obvious energy toward more productive means of communication and have begun sign language. We routinely use "more", "please", "thank you", "cup", and "all done". Ben also thinks it's funny to throw "poop" in there, to which I have to remind Ty is not proper table talk! He has yet to repeat any of the signs back to us, but we'll keep at it.

Ty's comprehension is amazing. He is mimicking many of the things we do, including singing, Indian noises (oh-oh-oh with hand), and talking back. He loves to jump in his jump-a-roo and run in his moving exersaucer [Pictured above with his cousin]. We rarely carry him in the car seat and usually bring him into buildings on his own. He is sitting in shopping carts and restaurant high chairs and loves to see the world in his big boy stroller.

It was a big month of firsts - including snow, Christmas, New Year's, and airplane rides!

We had a warm Texan Christmas, which gave Ty uninterrupted family time with his aunties and uncles...and cousin Nya!

Although Ty's loyalties have shifted and Daddy is his favorite person on the planet, he brings both of us unending amounts of joy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Enlarging Ty's Worldview

The biggest change I've experienced as a mom is perspective. My worldview is different with Tyrus in tow. My first priority is to raise little Ty to be a rock-solid, man of God and the only way I know how to do that is to be a rock-solid, woman of God.

If we pass a man on the street in need of food, we are going to give him food; if we're standing in a crowded line of impatient shoppers, we are going to speak kindly; If we see an elderly woman struggling with her groceries, we are going to assist her; if a friend comes down with the flu, we are going to lay hands on them and pray. These are just a sampling of the scenarios that have begun to cross our path.

I want to love generously, whether Ty is around or not, but his presence makes it imperative. I try to take every opportunity to teach him the ways of our Father.

Last night we sat and watched some of the Haiti coverage and I was heart broken. My initial thought was...Who am I to complain about God's abandonment?...That country is a mess. What was even more sickening was the news coverage. Anderson Cooper was running live coverage all night and CNN showed footage of a 15 year old girl trapped between concrete with only her feet sticking out. Granted, they warned the audience of its graphic nature, but while she cried in pain, Anderson interpreted the situation and what the girl's family was trying to do.

I was frustrated, thinking, turn that freaking camera off and help find a solution! The devastation on the streets was palpable and the bodies piled haphazardly, overwhelming. I went to bed with a very heavy heart.

I woke up, this morning, thinking, it's not enough to talk about having compassion on the Haitian people, I have to do something. I went to Compassion International's website, knowing they would have a relief fund and donated what we could. It only takes $35.00 to sustain one family for two weeks with food and water. I used Compassion International because I know they bring the gospel everywhere they go and they were already stationed in Haiti for pre-existing support programs.

I have already explained Haiti's great need to Ty and the two of us are going to begin praying for that country, daily. If ever a land was in need of the miraculous, it's Haiti...and it's now.

Please click here if you'd like to give through Compassion International.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Loudest Cry Discovered

I realized something important, this week.

My self-torturing agony over not being able to birth a baby had less to do with the empty hole in my heart and more to do with the abandonment I felt from God. I did want a baby. More than anything in this world, but even more I wanted God to answer my cries.

For a year straight I pounded on the doors of heaven, laid open my heart on the threshing floor, and all but tore my garments at his alter, asking for answers. My efforts, however, were always met with silence.

It wasn't that God was not present. Occassionally I would hear a whispered word to my heart - grace or an encouraging phrase - keep pushing through. But never did I get an answer. It didn't even have to be my answer of a promised child. Just an answer would have done - motherhood isn't for you...I have other plans...your desires will be fulfilled. Anything would have been better than nothing.

Exactly 12 months ago, I was at my worst. I was a shell of a person. There was no fight left. All hope was gone. I had finally admitted defeat.

And for the first time in my left, felt abandoned by God.

Earlier this week, I spoke with a friend and as I listened to her words my heart was warped into past stages of remembering. Her situation was a completely different shade, but I still found myself in her words. She spoke with brokeness, as she desperately grasped for any sliver of hope to hold on to. I cried with her and offered the most encouraging words I could muster and then wept my entire way home.

I hope to never return to that state of hollowness, but for the sake of my friend, I allowed the memories to flood back. Ben and I sat face to face, on the couch, as I reviewed the earlier conversation. Tears were streaming from my face as I said. Do you remember that silence? When the cry for family was deafening and the voice of God was absent? It was complete abandonment.

Ben didn't have to answer, his matched tears did the talking. We both remember.

We did not go into infertility with a just-on-Sunday relationship with God. We were his. We were captives to his love and served him faithfully in everything we did. We were the holy-roll'n, tongue-speaking, passionately-exuberant type. And then he stopped speaking.

I don't know why. I have ideas and guesses and theories, but there's no definitive answer. Our faith was literally stripped down to nothing, as our exposed hearts walked out the last few months before Rebekah's call, faithless.

Naturally, it's easy to look back now and see that God did have a plan and never stopped being faithful, but the wreckage that our hearts took was massive. I believe that our hearts are healed and that God's grace washed us for months leading up to Ty's birth.

Last year was a whirlwind of emotion and today, I find myself asking, "Lord, where does all of this leave us, now (as in you and me)?"

Everything looks different as a mother and now that things have settled, I find myself yearning to reconnect to my Savior, in pre-infertility ways.

After our little abandonment cry-fest, it was clear to me that the winning culprit of my heart's loudest cry was not that of a baby, it was the absence of the God I claimed to know so well. The Bible-thumpers would tell me he was never absent, but that's not what I mean. His silence was absence and I'm not sure I've been ready to dive back into that investigation.

Until now.

I don't need to know why I can't have babies (it doesn't matter), but I do need to know why I never heard God answer. I've been admittedly too pre-occupied to revisit the issue and ashamedly haven't read my Bible in months, but I'm ready now.

The next time I weep with a friend I want to be able to share the full spectrum of revolution my heart took, so that others might be encouraged.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Quote of the Year

Quote of the Year
{Don't get too excited, people, it's only January}

Ben: I'm going to start my own blog. I'm going to blog about living with a blogger. It's going to be called "Gall Bladder Cries."

I sure love these boys! Always making me laugh.

Monday, January 4, 2010

More Q&As

I have much to say and layers on my heart, but for now, I'm just going to ask you to pray. I'm in active pursuit of finding a literary agent to represent the book I want to write and the process is intimidating to say the least. Pitching my heart in a standard three paragraph, no-fuss, letter is harder than any 30 page paper I've ever had to write. I'm begging God for wisdom as I thoughtfully, lay my words on paper.

In the meantime, I've had several questions sent my way, that I'd like to answer. Hopefully, you don't find our little Q&A sessions's the easiest way for me to answer everyone at once and I jump at every opportunity available to share our story!

Here we go:

The birth parents of my children abused my children so strongly that they lost custody of their kids. I have no warm fuzzy feelings for these people. How in the world am I going to talk to my adopted children about their birth parents? I am not a bitter birth parent hater. I really am not, but in our case, these birth parents are out living their lives while their children are struggling to pick up the pieces. Seriously, any advice is appreciated.

First of all, I would never profess to have all the answers. In adoption, every scenario is so unique and different, there's no way that one answer will always suffice. God has really been speaking to my heart in regards to adopting out of foster care [a different post for a different day] and if ever a chaotic system of loopholes and differences existed, it's there. It's difficult for me to offer advice while not in your shoes. The best life advice I can give is to speak kindly.

We all fall short of God's glory and make bad decisions (some more than others). Ben and I strive to live love out loud, in all situations, and want Tyrus to be a I Corinthians 13 kind of man. We want him to know that God's version of love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When it comes to openness, how is that enforced? Do the birth parents within your agency have legal rights to the updates. I am just curious.

To be perfectly honest, I think this falls on the honor system [correct me if I'm wrong]. If a birth mother/father went to the agency and complained about an absence of promised pictures/letters, the agency would surely contact us, but I know it's not something the agency follows up with. We did fill out paperwork that outlined our openness and it was pretty specific, but I didn't see a mention of it anywhere in the court documents filed to the county. I also feel that full-on open adoption involves relationships full of mutual love and respect for one another. Although boundaries may be later established, families that choose to engage in open adoption, usually embrace it with big hearts. In our situation, we could never renege our decision because Rebekah has become a part of our hearts and family.

What have you decided Ty should call his birth parents?

Ty will refer to them by their first names, with the appropriate Mr./Ms. in front of it and although he does have biological siblings and aunties and grandparents, they won't formally be considered a part of our family. Meaning, I don't want Ty's second grade teacher to ask him how many siblings he has and for him to say, "Well...I have a sister and brother at home [hopeful thinking], but then technically my birth mom has four kids and my birth dad..." We feel that is too much confusion for one little mind. Rebekah's family will always be a part of our extended family (and Ty will know that her kids are half brothers and sisters), but his immediate family will consist of Me and Ben and any other children God blesses us with. How Ty chooses to refer to them when he's older will be up to him.

It seems your birth mother needs constant reassurance that she will be a part of Ty's life. Is that true?

No. Rebekah is one of the most lovable, easy-going friends I have and if anything, she leans toward the side of never wanting to impose/interfere with our life. You may be mistaking the number of references to her, throughout my blog, as a way for me to satisfy her neediness. But at face value, I simply love her and can't say enough about her and the place she holds in my heart.

You and Ben seem very fit and active. What if Ty doesn't share the same tendencies? What if he is an overweight child?

I'm a firm believer that Ty will grow up to be like us because it will be his normal. What kid wouldn't want to go bouldering or mountain biking or cliff jumping? I'm pretty sure if mom and dad are "all in," so will little Ty! Again, I'm no expert, but when it comes to weight issues I think most of them relate to eating habits and lifestyle choices. Ben and I don't pound double cheeseburgers and potato chips. We try to make right choices and enjoy the energy that comes with them. The best we can do is set Ty up for a lifetime of good habits, what he chooses to do when he's out from under our watch, is up to him.

How come your blog focuses on you and Ty and not as much on Ben?

Well...It's my blog [smile]. In all seriousness, there are two reasons. First, I use this blog as a journal. Each page contains my thoughts, my cries, and my words. It is my special place for exploring life as an adoptive mom and growing as I go. I, also, don't ever want to misrepresent Ben. I'm not sure about your marriage, but we don't always agree on everything over here and it's just easier to be responsible for me - what I say - what I post.

I don't have the exact wordage on this last one because I couldn't find the email, but someone questioned my "gift" terminology when refering to Ty. It was not a nasty anonymous hater, rather it was a sincere birth mother. The premise of the note was that it bothered her that adoptive families view their children as gifts when that was not the birth mother's intent. She said she did not give her child to an adoptive family as a gift for the family, but instead gifted her child with a family...that her concern was not that the family could or could not have children. It was that her child would have the best family possible.

I am thoughtful when it comes to adoption and try to look at every angle to make sure I'm not missing the best view, but my commenters also get exaggerated eye rolls from me when I feel their being oversensitive. My intent [here] is not to offend, I completely understand where the above birth mother is coming from and before she mentioned it, I had never contemplated her point. But, in general, there is so much insecurity when it comes to political rightness, it drives me batty. Adoption is not an exception. We get so caught up in terminology - birth mother/first mother, gave baby up/made an adoption plan, real mother vs. adoptive mother, etc., etc.

I just don't get it. {Enter Soapbox Rebekah} Mixed in all the "right" word mumbo jumbo is a stand off be-careful-what-you-say-around-me attitude, that isn't welcoming to anyone. Now, hear me, if Rebekah was sensitivie to any of the above examples, we would absolutely honor her with our words, but thankfully, we are in one accord on this. The adoption community can be too sensitive (and it's mostly on the adopting family side).

It honestly doesn't phase me when someone asks about Ty's "real" mom. I know my place in Ty's life and don't feel the need to defend it. Most inquirers are new to all things adoption and don't know how to play by our PC-rules. Regularly, I refer to Rebekah as "Ty's mom" or the birth father as "Ty's dad." I don't do it on purpose, it's just natural - they are Ty's mom and dad.

I was thinking, today about this whole issue and immediately John 3:16 came to mind - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..." It doesn't read: God so loved the world that he made a crucifixion plan for his one and only son. So why do I have to avoid using "gave up" when talking about Rebekah and Ty? Doesn't it sound less substantial and selfless to say Rebekah made an adoption plan? Rebekah did more than make an adoption plan for Ty... she gave her sweet baby boy to that he could have a daddy and a life full of opportunity.

Maybe if we all met on common ground we could start communicating openly.... {Soapbox Rebekah is done}

All that to say, whether Rebekah meant Ty to be a gift to our family or not, he is. He is the greatest gift I've ever received. And although Rebekah paid a great sacrifice, the Master Giver is my heavenly Father.

I think that wraps it up. Here is my sweet miracle in action:

Gotta love a warm Texan Christmas.