Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Review {2011}


 January: Ty goes sledding for the first time and has a ball!

 February: Ty's vocabulary starts to explode and we enjoy a quiet month at home.

 
March:  I take a fun trip to Chicago with my girlfriends!

April:  Ty moves to a big boy bed and gets bunk beds!

 May:  Rebekah came to visit!!

 June: Ty turns two and starts getting haircuts by mommy (thankfully, they've improved!)

 
July: We take Ty on his first camping excursion exploring caves, swimming in waterfalls, and kayaking in the beautiful Watauga lake. 

August: I turn 30 and graduate with my MBA in the same week. We celebrate with the coolest pirate murder-mystery party ever! (And TY gets potty-trained in a weekend by Nana!)

September: We had a crazy family camping trip that produced 90 and 40 degree weather in the same weekend!

October: I finished teaching my first college course, we finished our PRIDE training for foster adoption, and we enjoyed two trips to the orchard for apple picking!

 November:  I made my goal time of under an hour (by 30 seconds!) at our annual mountain bike race.

December: We book-ended our travels with a trip to Houston and San Antonio for Christmas (Other trips included: Toronto, Hocking Hills - OH, Appalachian Mountians - TN, Lake City - MI, Port Huron - MI, and Holland-MI).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peace From the Inside Out

I am just bathing in peace these days. I've never quite felt this way before so it all seems serene and somewhat strange. We haven't heard from our case worker since the news came in on little boy, but I suspect that will be how the next several months go. I was contacted last week by a sweet bloggy friend that has connection to a foster mom with a 3 month old baby girl facing parental termination (the foster mom does not have plans to adopt). Baby girl's mom is a baby herself...14. I know next to nothing about the mother or her daughter, but I have inquired on whether or not they both would be available for adoption.

I haven't been able to shake this young mother from my heart. Pregnant at fourteen? Where were her parents?

I don't know exactly what God is doing in my heart, but he has given me an extra dose of love lately for his people. There are two other adults in my life, right now, that haven't had much of a home or family life. God has connected them to Ben and I and given us a real opportunity to take them in and show them the face of Jesus. I know that adoption is "my thing", but my eyes have been wide open to the hurting people around me...all in desperate need of family.

I made a pact with God. I'm going to lovingly mother each person he whispers to my heart. Whether formal adoption transpires or not, I'm ready to use my passions for my Savior. Even in adulthood, we need family - community.

Yes, we would love a little person for Ty to brother and, of course, the above mentioned situation lends itself to Ty's two year old cries for a baby sister, but God is transforming my mind to look past the natural.

I don't know where our path is going or how our family is shaping, but I do know that I've never been so rooted by peace. What a wonderful surety to take into Christmas.

My heart is bursting, my lips singing, JESUS IS LORD.

If I don't talk to you before, have a very Merry Christmas and hold your loved ones tight. I also ask that you stand with me in prayer for this young mother. Pray that she, too, would feel peace from the inside out.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ben


This is my husband. And boy do I love him...

I walked in commencement for my master's, this weekend, on his birthday. He never complained. 

I could feel his pride as I walked the stage and spent the next two hours of the ceremony reliving some of our moments. I have always had huge vision and lofty goals. In high school, Ben would say, "I just want to spend my life carrying your luggage from adventure to adventure."

Back then I thought it highly romantic, today I see the sacrifice in his heart. His loyalty is fierce and friendship faithful. He really had no idea what he was signing up for when he picked me.

I thought through our successes and failures as a family. The high highs and low lows.

There were several moments through my program where I almost quit. Working, schooling, and mothering was enough to get me to the edge of breakdown within minutes. When the tears started to peak, Ben would say, "You can do this. You only have __ more months left. The end is in sight" or "You're either going to be 30 with a son and graduate degree or you're going to be 30 with a son and no degree - it's your choice."

God gave me Ben. He is a gift to my life, a constant cheerleader, a forever friend. He's funny and generous and kind. His heart is tender and mind quick. Ty is just like him.

I'm shouting thankfulness to heaven for the man created for God, but living with me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Little Boy

We heard from our case worker yesterday that little boy's case worker has three families to choose from. Emotionally, we have removed ourselves from the running. The other families both have connection to him, one family fostered him earlier this year and the other adopted two of his siblings.

I was not able to talk/write about it, yesterday, because I wasn't quite done holding him in my heart. I'm not devastated or emotional, but I am sad. From little boy's view, he's a big winner and I'm thankful that his transition will be smoother given the history with both families.

Last night I was folding laundry, while Ben and I sat on our bed and talked. I said, "You know I'm going to do this every time, right?"

Ben answered with, "What? Tell everyone we know and reorganize our lives as if that child is coming home tomorrow? Yes, honey, I know. It's what I love most about you. You only know how to be extraordinary."

I love my husband.

I love that the two of can be so vastly different, yet so appreciative of the other.

I admit. In my head I had started raising twins. I was dressing them alike, while searching for coordinating quilt patterns for their bunk beds and planning a welcome home party. I took little boy into my heart the moment I heard his name...and I don't regret doing it.

I had a massive number of people in my sphere of influence praying for little boy and the right family for him. I believe that those prayers are and will be answered. Sure, I have to go back and tell everyone that we are still a family of three...but, I'm an all-out-there, heart wide-open kind of girl. I want people beside me, especially in these moments.

I told my co-workers, today, that my heart remains hopeful and true to my present family. I will continue to dream and pray, of course, but I am compelled to soak in every second of being mommy to one.

When I told Ty last night that little boy was probably going to live with another family, his response was, "I want a baby sister!"

I had to laugh. Ty is certain that God will bring him a baby sister. Maybe he will...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Waiting Game

Tonight we were sitting on the couch and Ty said, "Hey...Mama. I just tootied on your leg...I'm sneaky."

"Oh, good grief, Ty. What is with you and your daddy? Lord help me! I'm surrounded by boys."

I roll my eyes and tease and feign disgust at some of their actions, but the truth is...I love living with boys. I love mothering a son. For the past week I haven't thought much beyond mothering two sons...

Sigh. No news.

I have been praying and hoping and dreaming for little boy, wondering if he's safe...warm...and feeling loved. It is extremely difficult to stay neutral in the matter when your life is run by explosions of passion that make it impossible not to dive in deep.

My time sitting on the start-up agency's board, however, gave me an important perspective to this process and respect for the people who drive it. I heard multiple case workers refer to prospective adoptive parents as "high maintenance" because we tend to only see our case, opposed to the worker's twenty others. Those words have echoed through my thoughts this week. I haven't called since the call.

If our case worker had news, she would pass it on. Pestering her for updates each day will only waste precious time needed by other children and/or families. The waiting, however, is horrific. I just want to know.

I want to know if little boy's case worker has had time to read our file, yet...I want to know what the process looks like from here if we are matched...I, of course, want to know when we would get to meet him...and when he'd get to come home...

His case is laced with sadness that makes it difficult to restrain from beating on every door in the county until we find him. Ben is playing it very "cool" and taking each day in stride, remaining cautious. Not me. I threw all reservations to the wind and fully connected with little boy on paper. I've read and re-read his case six times and counting.

A mother's heart doesn't need a picture or touch or relationship to care deeply.

I am, however, daily handing over a specific portion of my hell-bound flesh to the Lord. It's the part that automatically connects my compassion for little boy to God's will. I recognize the danger in walking that line and have seen enough to know that my feelings are completely unreliable and lead me astray time and time again. Just because I felt an instant connection to little boy doesn't mean that another mother didn't feel the same connection. Just because I read little boy's file and feel like his mother doesn't mean that God's redemption won't play out differently.

I've never done this before. I've never been handed a heartbreaking story and then been asked the question..."Will you choose this one?" I might feel this way every time. I don't know.

Because of this unknown, I'm choosing to trust the One made known.

The waiting isn't easy, but the trusting is.

God is faithful.

All the time. In every way.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Family of Four...?

For all the obstacles we faced early on in the foster adoption process, God has granted us tremendous favor. We talked to a couple the other day that has been waiting 9 months on paperwork processing, alone. Last night we had our last meeting with our case worker and the first meeting with our licensing worker. The meeting was a little intense as the foster information was quite extensive, but we took it in stride.

As our workers walked out the door, our case worker wished us a Merry Christmas and said, "2012 is going to be a big year of change for your family." We smiled and thanked them for their time.

We truly are in a state of God's perfect peace. I hope that our family will expand, next year, but I'm okay if it doesn't. I hadn't put much reflection into what 2012 was going to bring for us (isn't that what January is for?), therefore was blindsided by an email I received this morning. It went something like, "Rebekah, I submitted your family assessment this morning to my supervisor. I’ve attached a child adoption assessment on a 2-year-old male. I provided your information to his adoption worker for review."

I had to read it three times before I understood what our case worker was saying. Getting linked with a child this month was never in my realm of possibility. I, honestly, hadn't even thought of such a scenario. We, of course, looked through this sweet boy's profile, reading and re-reading all 12 pages. With every word our hearts screamed Yes, Lord. We're ready.

At this point, we know a lot about this little boy, his parents/termination of rights, and the story that brought him to this place. What we don't know is how many families have been submitted for consideration or whether or not his case worker will deem us a good fit.

There is something really special about this two year old that resonates with us. It's strange to feel so connected to paper. There's no picture or emotion provided, yet, the resilience in his report stirs our hearts. 

I am praying for this sweet boy tonight. Not that he would be ours or that we would receive confirmation tomorrow. Rather, I am praying God's perfect will for his life. I am praying protection over his little heart. I am praying that God would give wisdom and clarity to his case worker, so that she can quickly identify the best family to meet his needs...knowing we may not be the choice.

Please join us in prayer for this gift of God. Wouldn't it be wonderful if baby boy could be matched with his forever family for Christmas? I'll keep you updated as I find out information. Thank you for continuing to stand with us as we trust God for our family.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Q&A: Birth Mom Terminology

Christa's Question:
You know, as I go through the process of adoption I wonder what we should call our birthparents in front of our child. To say "birth" mother would raise questions about birth itself and at Ty's age I wouldn't want to explain the birds and the bees. "Biological" seems too big of a word but even "first" mom doesn't sound right. It implies you're second and may also imply there would be more moms to come after you, like a third and a fourth mom, at least from a child's way of thinking. "Real" mom to me is inappropriate and something I would never use because to me we're both real. Neither mother is fake. My social worker recommended using "biological" but I was wondering whether you and Ben struggled with the same ideas of introducing adoption terms to Ty. 

When Ben and I first dipped our toes into adopting waters, we asked a lot of the same questions and I don't know that we had answers pre-Ty. For me, adoption is such a progressive process that continuously changes the way I view my family and the world. Ben and I are super laid-back people and we decided from the beginning that the topic of adoption would be wide open conversation in and out of our home. Rebekah and her family are an extension of ours and we talk about them often.

When it comes to adoption lingo, I believe that it, truly, comes down to security. If you are secure in your role as mother, than there is no threat in terminology. We did ask Rebekah in the beginning of our friendship what she envisioned Ty calling her. It was her idea to use "Miss Rebekah" and whether we called her Ty's birth mother or first mother, she didn't have a preference.

Today, we use them all interchangeably. Because Ty understands Rebekah's place in his life (as much as he can at 2 1/2), when him and I talk about her, I simply say, "Miss Rebekah". If I'm talking about Rebekah with friends I call her by name, but if I'm talking about her to someone that doesn't know our story well, I most often refer to her as "Ty's mom."

The use of Ty's mom, used to bug some people around me, but I have never been threatened by it. She is Ty's mom and deserves to be referred to as such. Calling her mom, doesn't make me feel any less the role.

When Ty talks about Rebekah, he often says "My first mama," which I find completely endearing. It warms my heart every time I hear those words. For me, it represents a well-rounded kid that understands his beginning, as well as his present.

So far, Ty has not experienced confusion. He loves Rebekah because we love her and talks positively about adoption because we do. Open dialog and God-centered confidence make the complications of adoption a natural topic in our home.



If you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments or email me directly. I am certainly not an expert, but will write openly and honestly from our experiences so far.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Assessment - Take 2

I am so encouraged.

I was thinking about apostle Paul tonight. He was imprisoned when he wrote about the peace of God surpassing all understanding [Philippians 4]. Although my life pales in comparison to his, I am walking in that same, steady, I-can't-be-shaken peace.

I am so thankful for God's mercy that he would allow us to experience such peace.

We completed our family assessment tonight and it went really well (because we're pursuing a foster license we had to have a new one done). Our case worker has been a complete God-send. I met her through the start-up adoption agency I was helping out with, earlier this year. Where every other agency said "no", she advocated for us and returned a "yes". It was made very clear during our PRIDE training sessions that unless we were open to fostering children, our application could sit untouched and unprocessed for up to a year. One trainer actually said, "Families unwilling to foster are, unfortunately, not a priority."

I'm not here to dog her comment or agency, because I get it. I did a tremendous amount of research when I was involved with the start-up agency. I understand the money, I understand the need, and I totally understand the lack of staffing versus the number of cases that come through our state.

Understanding, however, didn't make the process of pushing our adoption application through any less frustrating. A process that could have taken months, has only taken us a few weeks - beginning to end. I believe it's the favor of God. He's driving this bus, we're just sitting in the front seat, keeping our eyes out for signs, unsure of which way He'll turn.

What seemed scary even a few weeks ago, doesn't hold up, tonight, and the unanswered questions seem, oddly, less necessary.

As we signed the last few pieces of paper and talked about the types of kids that could one day call us "mom" and "dad" our hearts were widened.

Even though we're pursuing adoption, without fostering, we are in track for receiving a foster license. We've been encouraged to do this from many different angles and believe it puts us in a better position of taking in kids sooner in emergency situations. This topic, led by our case worker, forced us to answer the question of whether or not we'd be open to housing children whose parental rights are on their way to termination, but haven't been terminated.

Because the peace of God has moved in, we said "yes" without flinching. Our case worker confirmed that we understood the risk.

We do.

We trust God.

I know some people will wonder why we're okay to do this, but not foster. It's not really a topic I want to pick apart, but I will say that we're walking in the path that God has called us.

When our case worker left, I looked at Ty and said, "What do you think? Will Miss _________ be able to help find us brothers and sisters for you?"

Ty's reply was, "No, Mommy. Jesus will bring them to me."

I didn't bother explaining that God often uses people to do his work.

I'm praising God, tonight, for our case worker's kindness...
For little Ty's intuitive heart that has begun the pursuit of his Savior...
And, most of all, for God's total and complete goodness that is every shade of beautiful.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My God Will Come Through Always

People claim to know God, but they deny him by the way they live.

Not my words, but Apostle Paul's [Titus 1:16 NLT]. My heart is undergoing some pretty big transformation - and I'm only a week in. I've heard my share of good messages, but recently I attended a conference and listened to John Bevere speak on extraordinary living. The shaking that took place in my heart was so violent, particles are still mid-float.

I have been distracted this year for various reasons, but God has been growing passion in my heart at an alarming rate, and it is time to focus my energy on His voice.


I made drastic changes this week.

It is not coincidental that we're knee deep in the foster license process at this time. Last week, we finished our ninth session of PRIDE training, submitted all the necessary paperwork [it sounds so easy stated this way!], and have our home study visit on Monday.

We have experienced a fair share of frustration during the process so far, but I believe that God has given me supernatural faith for this time; for His purpose. Unlike the roller-coaster of emotions I felt during domestic adoption, I am undaunted by the foster adoption path before us.

Do you love that Kristian Stanfill song as much as I do?

Oh, My God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength, always
I will not fear, his promise is true
My God will come through always

If I believe that my God will come through, always...is there any reason to be anxious?

No way.

I can't focus time on my fears or failures, because there's work to do. I have to trust God that His purpose will be multiplied in the life of my family.

There are 460,000 children in the U.S. foster care system.
114,000 of those kids are waiting for an adoptive family.
And 30,000 kids in the U.S. "age out" of the system every year.

What really drove these statistics home, this week, for Ben and me, is the fact that Michigan has approximately 10,000 churches and 4500 kids waiting for adoption. If half of those churches could produce one adoptive family, all the children in Michigan waiting for a home would have one.

Our hearts are on overload. In our first go-around, here, we're willing to take a sibling group of three. But God is stretching our hearts. What about the sibling groups of five or six? What about the eighteen-year-olds that never have "family"? When you allow God to move...boundaries are obliterated. I'm coming to Ben saying, "We can care for a baby addicted to cocaine" and he's coming to me saying, "We can care for teenagers in the independent living program."

What we can't do is adopt 114,000 kids [smile].

I am praying very specific prayers, right now, because I don't want to trust in my own abilities anymore. I don't want to cap God's power in my life, or put a limit on what's possible.

And I certainly don't ever want to be accused of denying God by the way we live...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ty's Birthday Wishes to his 1st Mama

Now that Ty is talking and understanding more, we've been sharing greater depths of his birth story and talking a lot about the day he was born and how Rebekah lovingly carried him in her belly for so many months. It's her birthday, so I had Ty send along some birthday wishes, tonight. In the video, Ty refers to Rebekah as his first mama. This is the first time he's used that phrase and it makes me so proud! To hear and see such affection displayed in Ty is reassuring that we're doing an okay job.

Happy Birthday, sweet friend!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ripped-Up Plans

"On this piece of paper, here, I want you to write down what you plan to do tomorrow and with whom. What about next year? In five years? What is your life plan?...Good. Now I'd like you to read your words...Rebekah, what's in your five year plan?"

Well, professionally, I hope to be in pursuit of my PhD, teaching classes at university, have a publishing contract, and maybe writing adoption books for kids. Personally, I hope to be a mother to multiples - 3? 4? 5?"

"Wow. Okay, that's ambitious. Ben, what about your plan?"

Me? I'm just exhausted from hearing her plan. [everyone laughs]

"I want everyone to stand up with plan in hand and rip it to shreds...what are you going to do when your plan doesn't go as planned?"

Our first day of foster license training included this exercise. It was simple, yet it carried with me into my week. Ben and I have gotten really good at letting God rewrite our plans -  to fall in line with his. I'm a mixed bag of emotions as we head down this road again. My tank is running about 90/10. Ninety percent certain of God's faithful hand and ten percent shaken at the prospect of what that means.

I stifled sobs throughout our first day of training. The heaviness of what we're walking into is palpable. The cases we studied - the stories we heard - made me want to run to and from the system...at the same time. I'm anxious of all the uncertainties that exist, but equally broken with the stories; it's hard to know how to function.

It's a strange dynamic.

I want to be excited about the possibility of expanding our family, yet there's this underlying tone of despair that comes with reasons for placement. I feel like I'm in this strange euphoric place, saying, "God. Your will be done. My mind can't comprehend the future, but I'm willing to let you lead me blind. Whether we adopt one or ten, this year or next, it doesn't matter. I trust you. And I'm going to continue to put one foot in front of the other as you finish the work you have started."

The adoption process that led us to sweet Ty was nothing like this. I was anxious and emotional and insecure. One day my emotions rang high, the others they bottomed low. I never felt this calm, steady, or at peace. I know part of that was the throbbing hole in my heart to mother. Walking this same, but slightly veering, trail with a little hand in mine makes all the difference.

When Ty boisterously proclaims, "Jesus. I need a sister," I don't ache with want, but instead look up and repeat...You heard him, Father. He needs a sister. (Smile)

The security in knowing that God has called us to walk this path is enough to lead me to my tape dispenser. I can tape my ripped plans back together and hang them on the fridge as mementos...reminders that God brushes with strokes of an artist. His picture has more depth and detail than mine ever would.

Three more weeks of training and an updated home study in November start to turn the key of our future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hoop Jumping


This week, Ty learned how to jump. He's been working on it for months, but up to this point his feet never left the ground at the same time - which resulted in a funny, squat-like gallop. Ty is so proud of his accomplishment. When we're out, he'll tell any stranger that will listen, "Look. Ty jump'n!"

I'm bottling his enthusiasm and applying it to the next chapter of our hoop-jumping adoption process.  I will say, adoption looks much different the second time around through God-is-faithful, mom lenses.

The process hasn't changed, but I sure have.

For me, the last several months were packed with responsibilities and class and marathon laundry nights. I had several bouts of near-anxiety attacks that left my chest heaving and my head swimming. To find my breath, I resigned my position at the new start-up agency I had mentioned before and laid down all things adoption to focus on getting through my studies and keeping my marriage intact. It's been a rough few months on all of us.

I was getting so discouraged by the foster adoption door-slamming, I had to take a five second time out to regroup. Because it's been so far between posts, I can't remember what I have and haven't shared. I'm going to give you a quick recap on where we're at as a family:

  •  Ben and I are confident that God is calling us to adopt children from foster care.
  • We are sure that fostering children is not for us at this time and are only looking to adopt wards of the state (the primary reason for this is that we both work full time, and while we know this isn't a deal-breaker as far as the state is concerned, it's not where we see God leading).
  • We would like Ty to be our oldest child and realize this may make for a long process (Ty will only be 2 1/2 when we're licensed).
  • We are open to all races and sibling groups
  • Ty has been praying for a baby sister (we chalk it up to the many girl friends that surround him!)
Because God's faithfulness has been sewn deep into my heart, waiting for his plan to come to fruition has been easy (this time around). I know that God is beckoning us into the world of foster adoption. Whether that happens next month, next year, or in the next decade, I know that this seed will blossom and I'm content to wait (although recognizing that this post may come to haunt me). There are two parts of this adoption vision that have really taken root. The first is to adopt a sibling group that will otherwise be split up and the second is to adopt a teenager. I believe both desires are by God and foresee them playing out in the distant future.

When we signed up for adoption we didn't know what we were getting into, but now that we do, we don't want out. Knowing that this will be a lifelong passion, allows us to take the obstacles in stride.

And there are obstacles....
  • Agencies (8 to be exact) don't want to work with us because we're not willing to sign-up as foster parents and we aren't willing to adopt a child over the age of 7 (at this time).
  • A friend/social worker got permission from her supervisor to represent us, but before the home study can be updated we have to complete PRIDE training - which is only offered a half day each week at an hour impossible for us to attend.
  • Every time I call DHS for answers I talk to six people before getting to the person who can answer my question.
Most of this investigative work happened at the tail end of my master's and it was just too much. I made all eight agency calls on the same day and by the end of it I felt suffocated. I was so overwhelmed with life that I threw God's vision back and told him we'd have to talk later. I needed to focus on the ending task before me. That was a few months ago.

Last week, out of nowhere, an urge to press on filled my heart. I came home and told Ben, "I'm ready to fight for our kids."

I am.

I'm full of hope and vision and know that God will finish the good work he has started.

I feel really good about our game plan, which I'll save for next time due to the length of this post! After multiple calls and some direct words to - let's call them - people of the system, we found representation for PRIDE Training and start next weekend.

I'm a little nervous, but mostly thoughtful when it comes to this new crisp page in our family book. We have to jump the hoops to pass through the system, but God is so much bigger than rules and statistics and tendencies. I know he's called us. I know we're willing. And I know there are a lot of kids in need of family...

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Siblings

    As most of you know, Ty has multiple siblings (on both birth parent sides). Although we (including Ty) have met most of his siblings and our relationship is inclusive of both families, communication is predominantly with Rebekah. The sibling relationship is challenging because of the distance between all of us and although we love Ty's siblings very much, there is little to no correspondence with them because most of our conversations are with his parents.

    I have connected, however, with one of Ty's older siblings and our relationship has really begun to blossom over the past several months. Last week I received a note that touched me so deeply, on multiple levels, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it:

    Those words are humbling to read. I am thankful to be viewed so favorably, but the last few lines are throat cloggers. And ~sigh~ I'll admit it. I'm glad you're my brother's mother...Those are words of a struggling sibling still coming to terms with adoption.

    It breaks my heart. Ben and I have said so many times that when we adopted Ty, we adopted a family. Not for the purposes of rescuing them or being some semblance of hero, but because they're a part of him and his story and his life. Reading this letter, challenged me to do more and love harder.

    While all that has been mulling around in my head, I received disheartening news about another one of Ty's siblings. As a matter-of-fact, the news was so startling I came right home and snuggled Ty as close as I could for as long as he'd let me. 

    My sweet, tender boy, said, "Mama sad?"
    "Yes, sweetheart, Mama is sad."
    "Mama need more snuggles?"

    I could hardly speak at that point and told Ty how thankful I was to be a family.

    The above pieces to my week made me realize how truly connected we are with Ty's family and that no matter what the cost, we have a responsibility to love on these kids at every opportunity. 

    At two, Ty doesn't really get it. When I told him we were going to pray for his brother tonight, he responded with, "No, mama, Ty needs baby sister." (He insists that Jesus wants him to have a baby sister). I didn't press the issue and decided at this point it might just be better to stick with sibling names and drop the "brother/sister" part.

    Just when I think I've got this open adoption thing down, God speaks to me and gives me further glimpses of his Truth. His reminders are so gentle, but convicting at the same time. The last several months have been very me-focused, as my attention was narrowed on finishing my degree. Now that it's done, I'm opening my heart again and praying for God to give me clarity of vision.

    I don't know why God chose us for this...but I'm certain that he did. My hands are open, my feet are walking, and my heart is ready to love.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Back for Good


    I never intended to take a sabbatical from this space, but it sure turned out that way! The last six months of my life have been extremely pressing. I was not prepared for how grueling the last semester of graduate school would be. It took every ounce of strength I had to remain focused. There were several weeks in there that I was also furiously working to help build a foster adoption agency, which in turn, led to many DHS phone calls and roller emotions within me. By the time I finished my MBA in mid-August, I was so frazzled, I couldn't tell you which end was up.

    I've spent the last few weeks taking deep breaths and reconnecting with my family.

    There is so much to say in regards to where God is leading us, the inefficiencies I feel, and the sureties that have taken root. I can't wait to dive into foster adoption with you, as we explore God's calling for our family.

    I am so thankful to have the summer behind me and the responsibilities that ended with it. Little Ty, who currently thinks he's a puppy, has grown so much in the past several months. From big boy bed to potty trained to eight word sentences, it's incredible to watch him form. 

    I'll let him close this post. Know that we're back and excited to have you walk this new journey with us!


    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Alive & Well


    Thank you for all your kind words and concern! I know I dropped off the map without warning and I promise I'll be back in full swing in a couple of weeks. My head and heart feel knotted congestion, with no release on words. My absence does not equate to drama, I simply had to retreat and concentrate on the final push of getting through my Master's. I'll be done in a few weeks; I'm counting the days.

    We have so much to catch up on....our trip with Rebekah was wonderful. She has become a sister to me and I miss her so much when we're apart! I've been named executive director of the foster adoption agency I spoke of several months ago. Our doors will open soon and Ben and I plan to be the first application processed. 

    Tyrus turned two, we took our first family camping trip, and I was just presented an opportunity to teach my first business class, in the fall.

    There is much in my heart to share...but I must continue to focus my energy on finishing my last MBA class and putting the final touches on my thesis, while helping build a much-needed agency that addresses concerns left in the wake of a broken foster care system.

    I feel as though I'm climbing up out of a blender. My thoughts and plans for our future have been mashed and pulsed through God's prodding, but I know the pouring season is about to begin.
    I love you and miss you and promise to be back soon. We'll dive into my heart together and talk about what God's been doing in my life.

    I hope you're all enjoying your summers - I can't wait to reconnect!



    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Two Rebekahs, One Interview

    Words and pictures from our visit to come. For now, enjoy our candid video as we answer your questions. It's a bit lengthy, I had to cut the segments in three (40 min total), but I think you'll enjoy them as we explore our experience in open adoption.

     



      

    I hope this gave you a good peak into our friendship; I cherish it more than I can say!

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Ty & His Mothers

    Well, this is our attempt at a Mother's Day video. As you will soon see, Ty is getting quite boisterous. I love his energy and just-found independence. Mothering him is no doubt one of the largest privileges in my life.

     

    Knowing Rebekah is equally as gratifying. After a year apart, I will finally be able to throw my arms around her in six days. SIX DAYS! I am so excited for our family to be together, again, I almost can't wait. First off, I just want to see her - the girl has lost 100 pounds. Secondly, thirdly, and fourthly, I can't wait for her to see us in our environment - to stay in our home, see our community, help put Ty to bed, etc; to meet our closest friends and family; and to have some good, old-fashioned, girl time (when Ty is asleep, of course!).


    I plan to do another video, similar to last year's. I thought it might be fun to involve all of you...since you're such a big part of both of our worlds. If you have a question you'd like to ask one or both of us, here's your opportunity! As long as you're respectful, not many questions are off-limits. Just be sure to reference which Rebekah you're asking if it's not obvious - you can use CO-Rebekah or MI-Rebekah (me), that's probably a good definer!

    We'll read your questions aloud and answer them on our video.

    Feel free to post your questions, here, in the comments, or email them to me, personally. I know there are many pictures, words, and tears to come. I'm looking forward to sharing them with you.


    Friday, May 6, 2011

    God's Love & Sloppy Kisses

    It's been a long, tiring week for reasons beyond not getting anywhere with DHS and foster care research, but TODAY was a bright, shining day. God reminded me (I hate that I need reminding) just how faithful he is. He provided me snapshots of me, in moments of high and low, while narrating the story that he wrote.

    My life has been marred by different failures - people, body, personal mistakes...but never by God. God has never failed me. If that doesn't put a bounce in your step, I don't know what will.

    I walked in the door with a light heart and immediately started wrestling with Ty, when he grabbed both my cheeks and gave me an under-puckered, wet, sloppy kiss.

    I cried with joy, thanked God for his goodness, and continued to chase Ty around the kitchen table.

    Why do I doubt?


    God's sweet love.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Where do we go from here?

    I am so thankful for the flood of response I've received from comments and emails. I had no idea I had so many readers with such a wealth of foster adoption information! Admittedly, I'm feeling pretty discouraged.

    Going in, I knew our 0-3 age specifications were going to be limiting, but I guess I figured the openness to ethnicity and siblings would help our odds. After reading more about the legal process, I understand why our chances of adopting, apart from fostering, are so slim.

    Keeping birth order really isn't something we've cemented, but adopting children under the age of four is important to us, right now. It really has nothing to do with the amount of life the kids have seen or lived, but everything to do with our readiness as parents. We have grown-up alongside Tyrus and each transitioning stage requires conversations, prayer, and preparation. I'm really not ready (and maybe willing is a better word here, although it sound terrible) to skip years worth of stages.

    As parents, Ben and I are just coming into hard-core discipline and have many discussions on what we should do, how we should do it, and what makes the most sense for a two year old. Adopting a 7 or 8 year old, right now, would throw such a curve ball. I would much rather adopt a 7 or 8 year old in 5 years, when we have more experience under our belts. I know critics would say our lack of experience is inconsequential compared to the love so many of these children need, but my feet are firm on the matter.

    I want, more than anything, to adopt teenagers someday, but, right now, we (along with all of our friends) are  in parenting-little-kid mode and we want to learn to do that well before moving on.

    So that leaves me with the stomach pitting question of What do we do?

    This morning, I cried out to God and said something along the lines of "Why can't my body just work?"

    I didn't bother to let the Holy Spirit respond. I know the answer and repeated it on cue.

    The way I see it, we have a handful of options:
    1. Throw our adoption tax credit into the domestic adoption system instead of paying off student loans.
    2. Try to find an expectant mother ourselves and start a self-promotion campaign, even to the point of newspaper adds and community bulletins (gag me).
    3. Jump through the hoops of being foster adoption "ready" only to wait years on end, barring a miracle of God.
    4. Decide to foster 0-3 kids and pray for adoption blinders, so that I can fully commit to supporting the reunification process and intent.
    5. Wait five years and go into foster adoption with a 0-8 age range.
    I don't like any of them. Reading through such a list is a sure crying trigger and has the ability to take me right to the why-me gutter.

    Thankfully, Ty's adoption required a heart revolution and I can usually, confidently, dismiss anti-Christ seeds from taking root.

    Part of the curse of infertility (at least for me) is that it never fully goes away. I hate that my motherhood is completely dependent on the heartbreaking sacrifice (domestic adoption) or delinquency (foster adoption) of other mothers.

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    Adopting Again

    It’s a new chapter, a fresh page.

    Within minutes of making the decision to adopt again, my fingers flew across the keys in research. We know where we’ve been called, what we’re looking for, and we feel equipped to do it. There’s something invigorating about such confidence that was lacking the first time around.

    After ten minutes of searching, however, my balloon began to deflate.

    If I thought the manual to open domestic adoption was missing, it’s completely non-existent in foster care adoption.  Every website I visited was a complicated mess of tangled details that left me with more questions than answers.

    Finally, I found a site that listed Michigan adoption agencies and the type of adoptions they specialize in. I’m starting out very particular. I don’t want to use an agency that does anything more than foster care adoptions. My main reasons are both centered on pressure. I don’t want to be pressured into moving into a money-making sector of an agency, nor do I want to be talked into fostering.

    For right now, we know that God is calling us to adopt child(ren) out of foster care.  We don’t feel right about fostering kids with the end goal being adoption. It goes against the grain of the system’s reconciliation purpose and it doesn’t align with what we feel God’s asking us to do.

    I could only find three agencies in our area that met my specifications, so I emailed all three the same snapshot. In essence, I described our passion for adoption, our openness to race and sibling groups, and our desire to honor birth order.

    We may not always feel this way, but (again) for now, we would like Ty to be the oldest. Assuming assessment and placement takes around a year, we’re asking to look at children from 0-3 years old.

    This morning, I received my top-picked agency’s response.

    Strike one.

    I’m sorry, but we’re only accepting applications of parents wishing to adopt children over the age of 8. Parents with your specifications wait years.  If you change your mind, please contact us again.      

    My heart fluttered for a moment and I thought about how much easier it would be to ignore the call of God and run back to the familiar. (How backward is your reproductive life when adopting, domestically, is the easy answer?)

    Thankfully, my heart surged forward and, with determination, I reminded myself that we have two more strikes. And if need be, two after that. And four after that…

    God is beckoning.

    We are moving.

    My dreams are too big to contain. I hope you’ll join me as we turn the page.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Parenting 101: Don't put Jesus in the Closet.



    Ty's language exploded in the last few weeks and the connections his little head puts together make me laugh. All week, we've been talking about Easter and what it means to us as Christ-followers. I mostly get blank stares when I tell him stories so I really don't know what he's retaining or understanding.

    This morning, I jumped in Ty's bed, told him how madly in love with him I am and asked if he remembered what we're celebrating today. He promptly asked for daddy.

    "Ty, daddy's still sleeping. Do you remember what mommy told you about, today? It's Easter."

    Eas-turrr.

    "Yes. When you see people today, you should say, 'Happy Easter'."

    Happy Burr-thday!!

    No. Happy Easter.

    Burr-thday!!

    Okay, whatever. Do you remember who we're celebrating today?

    Daddy?

    "No, Ty. Daddy's sleeping. We're celebrating Jesus. He died for us...but then rose again!"

    Then. With the most concerning look I've ever seen from a two year old, Ty asks. Mama...Jesus go?

    What do you mean, Ty? He died, but then he rose again.

    Very matter-of-fact like Ty reiterates his point. Mama, baby Jesus go?

    Ohhhh...you mean baby Jesus from your advent calendar? We packed him away with Christmas.



    I had a dozen variations of this conversation, today, when Ben, finally, said, "Honey. I'm not sure we're communicating well, here. Maybe telling Ty we pack Jesus away until next year, isn't the best idea!!"

    That made us both laugh.

    At bed time, when Ty asked about baby Jesus for the upteenth time, I promised we'd fish him out of the closet so that we could celebrate him all year long, without question!


    From our family to yours, Ty says, "Happy Burr-thday!!"

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Rebekah

    Rebekah is coming to visit. Soon. And I am, literally, giddy with excitement.

    Admittedly, I have been a horrid friend this year. Not just to Rebekah to everyone. This last push to my master's finish line has been more grueling than I was prepared for. My friends and family would tell you - I don't call; I don't write; I don't attend parties. Work-Ty-homework-sleep, has pretty much become the rhythm of my days. And if someone...let's say...Ben (for example), wants to spend time with me, it has to fall within the first two beats of the pattern because the last two are pretty much non-negotiable. It's bad, I know. Certainly not an ideal situation, but the end is near (August!)

    Rebekah is one of the people I miss most. I love the uniqueness in our friendship and that our affection comes from mothering the same son. I want Rebekah to know and experience sweet Tyrus in the same ways that I do and having her come stay with us, in Ty's home, will allow her that opportunity.

    From family wrestling to teeth brushing, I want Rebekah to see her son. She'll laugh at his silliness and cry in his tenderness, knowing, the whole time, that she has helped shape him. 

    I can't wait.

    I've got about three weeks to jam all the homework in so that we can have a care-free, all about Rebekah & Ty, kind of weekend, but what a reward her visit will be. I look forward to sharing it (and new pictures) with you!

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Give Hope. Win a $500 Visa Gift Card!!!!

    Please check out my Real Hope blog and find out how you can win a $500 Visa Gift Card! I am supporting an amazing group of college students that are doing a fantastic work at a nearby, inner-city, public school. I'm proud to know them and be part of such a cool initiative.

     I hope one of my readers wins!!!

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Life & Groceries

    We adopted a philosophy, along with a baby, nearly two years ago, now.

    We chose not to be those never-leave-the-house-it's-too-much-hassle parents and from day two, started introducing our son to the world. From watching his daddy's band lead Chinese worship to strolling running (respectfully) through local art museums to helping cook dinner, we allow Ty to participate in life.

    The benefits are shining. Ty's language has exploded and his manners are deliberate, as his little brain connects the most intricate details. It is wonderfully, fulfilling to watch unfold and makes me realize how incredibly, intelligent these little beings are.

    Here is a little peak into our latest grocery excursion. Ty is responsible for selecting and carting his weekly essentials.


    My mom bought him this Melissa & Doug, adult-like, shopping cart for Christmas and Ty loves it.



    It's snapshots of everyday life that scream God's goodness.

    I drink in these days and times and moments; it's hard to imagine they could ever be topped.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    The Rebekahs Interviewed

    Did any of you catch that Heather over at Production not Reproduction made Adoptive Families magazine's Top 20 Blogs list? Not only is she an amazing resource for open adoption, but she recently interviewed both Rebekah and me, here. I've done many interviews before, but Heather asked some really unique questions specific to my blogging relationship with Rebekah.

    Go check it out!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Inconceivable



    About a month ago I was asked to preview this soon-to-be released book, Inconceivable, by Carolyn and Sean Savage. It's no exaggeration to say I, anxiously, checked the mailbox every day until it came. My contact did not tell me of their decision to fight or relinquish rights, only that they had one shot at IVF and were implanted with another woman's embryo. Such a thought is shockingly, jaw-dropping.

    My walk-away from Inconceivable is strange in that I, confidently, say, with conviction - It is a must read for all prospective adoptive parents, while at the same time, admitting it's not the best-written book I've ever read. This book is compelling on so many levels and I want to spend a majority of this review exploring those points, but I need to be honest in my feedback. I found myself gripped by the Savages courageous story, but their written words left me wanting more. Does that make sense? I skimmed through some of the chapters, quickly, and found the swapping of perspectives, between Carolyn and Sean, a bit repetitive and somewhat disjointed. Overall, their, horrendously, pain-filled story was relayed in a methodical way that didn't maximize the intensity of the emotions described.

    That being said, I must reiterate, every prospective adoptive couple should read this story. There are so few resources available, in the adoption community, that realistically portray the birthing mother's devastation. As an adoptive mother, I related to Carolyn's pain on so many levels - the desolation of infertility, the world's callous reaction to her predicament, the heart-squeezing bond that developed between her and Sean, and the spiritual overhaul that knocked her to her knees.

     Sean and Carolyn's darkness, coupled with the distancing behaviors of the genetic (relative to adoptive) parents, is enough to make you want to spit in the face of adoption and pray to God for another way. Even in the most loving scenarios, the birthing mother loses. I had to stifle sobs when Carolyn wrote, "the truth was that I felt gutted." Gutted. The gruesomeness of that word has replayed in my mind over and over again.

    I found myself advocating for the Savages in such a big way, willing the genetic parents to open their hearts wider...to see the pain their coldness caused. One of Carolyn's closing remarks is in response to the birth announcement she receives from the family raising the baby she carried. Carolyn says, "Shannon had sent me a birth announcement for Logan at the same time and in the same way that she had announced him to her extended family and distant friends. This was what stabbed at my soul. I was now and forever more a bystander in his life."

    I'm not sure any adoptive parent could read these words and not be challenged by their weight. In the opening chapters of Inconceivable, Carolyn and Sean describe the legal aspects of their case and Carolyn's words are haunting: "This baby could not survive without me, but judges had ruled repeatedly that my contribution to this life was irrelevant...I desperately wanted to read something that said I mattered."

    Whether tied to adoption or not, I hope you'll allow the Savage's story to inspire and challenge you to love bigger. For more information please visit  Sean & Carolyn's blog.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Quote of the Day

    We picked up our bunk beds, today, and I must admit...it was love at first sight. They are even more fantastic than the picture hinted at. Sturdy and rich, natural wood just screaming with character. Everything in me wanted to set them up tonight, but the deal we made with Ty is that he has to go poo-poo on the potty before he gets a big boy bed! We're working on the potty-training, now, but I don't anticipate that we'll be setting the beds up before his second birthday. Which is perfect timing for our next adoption(s) and the licensing to go through for the new agency that we want to use and that I recently became the executive director of (more on that to come).

    For those that asked, we have not started the process of getting licensed for foster adoption, yet (we're waiting for me to finish my MBA) and we are not only open to taking a brother for Ty (as one of you so rudely suggested). We are wide-open to let God move here, as he sees fit. That being said, I believe that God will be adding a brother to our clan soon - a brother and a sister would be perfect...maybe even a brother and two sisters!

    As we unloaded the beds and coordinating mattresses, Ben said, "I can't believe you found us such a great deal on this bed...Now all we gotta do is find us some more kids!" With a big sloppy kiss he headed out the door and my heart grew at least two-fold.

    I love that man and I love the path God has us on.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    A Pregnancy Test (of Sorts)

    Day 50 and still no period. 

    I don't dare mention that fact in real life or I'd, likely, hear references to the "p" word. 

    I hate that.

    I wish everyone else around me could be as okay with my barrenness as I am. I'm not a soul waiting to be saved or a belly waiting for its seed. I'm a mom of another breed - and I'm okay with that!

    I know my body well. I spent years trying to force it to do something it, clearly, didn't want to do and eventually...I just came to terms with it. 

    Around Day 48 I realized how refreshing it was to never have to wonder. To never be in that place of waiting for the right day and stocking up on tests, "just in case." I should have kept moving through my day, but for about three minutes I wallowed in a self-pity that has been absent for quite some time. 

    I wondered. 

    I wondered what it would be like to have your body work for you. How exhilarating it would be to pee with such exciting results. I wondered how I might have told Ben and the serious joy that would have raptured our home.

    I didn't think about the pregnancy or the belly or the birth...only the emotion behind taking a test and getting an A. This thought escaped before I could capture it...

    How incredible it must be! To run to the bathroom in a frenzy - a million thoughts dancing in your mind. The would bes and could bes writing their stories as you wait. Forget pregnancy and birth, the warmth of knowing your next chapter reveals itself on sticks is where I've truly missed out the most.

    As quickly as it came the Holy Spirit swooped in and said, "Daughter, you haven't missed out. Look at the fullness of your life. The love you know. The family you share. They are missing out. Most people never love in this way."

    And just like that, the conversation ended and I made plans to buy these bunk beds.



    I know it sounds crazy. 

    I've been looking for awhile, so that Ty and his brother can build forts and dream of storming castles. This beaut is big bucks in stores, but I found it used on Craig's for half price.

    We pick it up on Sunday.

    Call it a build it/buy it- he-will-come mentality, but I felt strongly about this purchase. 

    That it's time. 

    Do you know what the best part of the deal was? When I told Ben we were picking up bunk beds on Sunday for our son that doesn't exist, to enjoy with his brother that does, Ben's only response was, "Okay, what time?"

    I may not get to take pregnancy tests, but I do get to buy bunk beds. 

    I get to buy beds and watch them stand empty until God brings the right warm body to fill their space.  In our family, an empty bed is the perfect reminder that God is moving.

    And friends. He is moving.

    I hope you know that today, in your own life.


    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Reconnecting

    For once, this post has nothing to do with Tyrus and everything to do with Ben and me. This blog has definitely taken a back seat to life in the last several months, as I've been forced to really hunker down and give all my spare time to finishing my Master's thesis and remaining classes. The good news is that it will all be over soon and life as we know it will fall back into stride.

    I have so many updates from that new agency I told you about last fall to adopting to work changes, but tonight, I want to write about a little reconnecting that happened between Ben and me, last week.

    The largest sufferer to my one-track school brain has been Ben. For nearly two years, my nights and weekends have been full of homework. So much so that I don't even remember the last time I grocery shopped or made dinner - Ben is super-hubby and does it all! So, when an opportunity came up for us to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Toronto for a long weekend, we jumped on it.

    I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this, here, before, but Ben plays in an all-Chinese worship band. The group sings in Mandarin and because they're one of only a few Mandarin Christian bands, they travel around to local church venues and hold nights of worship. The full service is in Mandarin.

    It has been a really neat way for our whole family to step outside of our comfort and culture and join the Chinese in theirs. Sometimes there's translation available for me, sometimes not. But, worship is worship...in any language.

    Well, Ben's band got asked to tour with a very popular Chinese artist, Amy Sand, who currently travels the globe, proclaiming Jesus in Mandarin.  This tour happened to be in Toronto, where Ben and I honeymooned, nine years ago.

    We left Ty at home with our best buds and set out for a weekend together. Ben had four evening performances (three of which I stayed back and did homework), but we were able to enjoy our days doing...whatever we wanted! Funny enough, we spent a lot of time sleeping (apparently we don't do much of that back home), but also took in a lot of the city and its life.

    It was so good to be away. We talked and laughed and spent hours over dinner, reminiscing. One of our free nights we went to see the hit Broadway show, Billy Elliott (seriously, the best show I've ever seen) and there was a scene where Billy (who's 14) shares a song with his dead mom. He finds himself in a hard place in life and she comes back to encourage him. The song (The Letter) tore us to pieces. The chorus sings:


    And I'll have missed you growing,
    And I'll have missed you crying,
    And I'll have missed you laugh.
    Missed your stomping and your shouting,
    I'll have missed telling you off,
    But please Billy...
    Know that I was always there

    The little boy that played Billy looked just like Ty should look, twelve years from now. The first time they sang through the chorus all I could think about was how terrible it would be to miss out on Ty's life and then by the second chorus I realized that Rebekah was. Hearing the words through her view was enough to make me cry like a baby.

    I was in a week-long state of reflection, while there. The Ben and Rebekah that honeymooned in Toronto nine years ago were so different from the Ben and Rebekah that worshiped with the Chinese, this time. Of course, we feel older, wiser, more mature. But there is something else we felt there.

    Bonded.

    It was almost like life had come full circle, in a ten-year-kind-of-way. The last time we visited it was via train. I remember stepping outside of the train station and looking Ben straight in the eyes...it felt like we had the whole world hinged on our love and that we were about to take the first step toward our bound-for-perfection future.

    It's amazing how much life you live in ten years. How much hurt and devastation can overshadow so many of those years.  But then one shining soul comes along, makes your world right, and allows you to see all the good, again.

    When I looked at Ben in front of the train station, last week, I saw less of our future and more of our love. God has guided us through many peaks and valleys in our marriage and I don't know whether it's age or experience, but the longer we're together, the more peace-full I am.

    Looking at Ben in the shadows of a big city, this time around, gave me deep admiration for the man he is and the marriage we have. It was so good to reconnect and dream... Our dreams for the next ten years are so different than the first ten. We were selfish then. It was all about us and our plans and our ambitions. Thank you God! for the revolution that's taken place in our hearts. Our family will never be the same.

    It's pretty exciting to think about anniversary twenty...I know our story is just getting started.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Happy Adoption Day!!

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate

    The last couple of weeks I've been weighing the decision on whether or not we should make a big deal of Ty's official adoption day, coming up on February 9th.  I don't know why it even weighed on my mind because in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? I don't think so.

    I was leaning toward acknowledging it as a great day, but not getting all crazy special about it. Mostly, because we've been loving and praying for this boy the day we found out about him, in Rebekah's womb. The fact that he legally became a part of our family on the ninth seems irrelevant.

    If you read back to that post, you'll find that finalization was more of a rainbow day for me, as God reminded me of our journey together and the sign of promise he delivered through sweet Ty.

    When I thought about our future family, however, I realized that adoption days will become much more significant. For a minutes-old baby that knows me as mom from the start, an adoption day is formality at best. But, for a 10 year old girl who's never experienced God's version of family, adoption day is a big deal.

    I, recently, met a woman who was adopted from foster care at age 12. Her story is so appalling, yet, compelling that God used her to rev the engines of my heart.

    We are needed in this God-desperate, people forsaken arena called foster care.

    As I thought through the many scenarios and faces that will one day sit around our dinner table, I decided that adoption day is a day of proclamation. A day to rejoice in the goodness of God and the uniqueness of each thread that is woven through our family tapestry. 


    What a joy this little thread has been to our family. We gladly celebrate his life and adoption, next week. God is good!

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Mom-E

    Time is flying.

    My MBA is kicking my backside. Big time. I know that I am a college "kid," but nothing makes me feel like one more than multiple nights of 2am studying and paper writing. In one of my over-exhausted, writing binges I remember thinking about my first week home with Ty. I mean, home-home, not the out-of-state home we made do with for weeks on end.

    We were home two weeks before my first MBA course started. I remember thinking, then, that it was suicide...but I gave myself the appropriate pep talk. Two years seemed forever in the future, especially when functioning on 4 hour chunks of sleep, but Ben would remind me that two years would be gone in a blink...and that I was either going to turn 30 with a master's degree or turn 30 without one. Either way I was going to turn 30.

    And here we are. Nearly, two years later.

    In six or so months, Ty will turn two. I will turn thirty. My first post-graduate degree will be done.

    Wow. It feels good.

    Although I've had moments of drowning, the part I feel most accomplished by is the mother I've been for Ty. With few exceptions, all of my homework was done during my lunch hour at work, nap times at home, and sleep times for the rest of humanity. That feels real good.

    Ty is growing and changing so fast, I'm trying to savor each moment. Whether they come again through another little boy or girl doesn't matter...they won't come again for Tyrus. I'm quickly losing my baby to boyhood.

    The paci is gone and Ty hardly batted an eye. We just cut it cold turkey and told him big boy's didn't need one. He never asked for it again.

    The monkey in him is starting to climb and a big boy bed may be in our near future.

    For weeks, the kid has been saying, "Poo Poo, Muma" right before he does it! He's starting to sit on the potty, now.

    My favorite change was the introduction of Mom-E. Ty's sweet Mumas have melted my heart for so long, but the Mom-E takes me right to my thank-you-Jesus place. He's starting to put many syllable words together, now, and the pride that spreads across his face is evident.

    Just tonight, Ben said to me, "You know he says one Dad-E for every six Mom-Es, right?"

    "I do. I sure waited a long time to hear them. It's like he knows."

    Thank you for continuing to follow our story and love on our family. God is doing so much in us and new chapters are on the brink of release. For the next few months my nose will continue to be in the book-grind, but thankfully the end is near!

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Good for Disaster

    Today was one of those days that leaves you grateful for everything God has done in your life.

    I was the lucky recipient of two different virus strains that had me throwing up and nursing a horrendous head cold. How does that even happen? After gracing the bathroom for a major part of the night, I finally fell asleep around seven this morning. An hour later I heard Ty's sweet singing, clean-up, clean-up...[Not sure if it's nature or nurture, but that boy is shaping to be like me in more ways than one!]

    Ben swiftly got up, closed our bedroom door quietly, and the next time I rolled over it was past noon.

    My boys waited on me, hand and foot, while I curled on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. Ty is such a tender heart and kept coming over to rub my head or pat my back. At one point Ben was reading Snuggle Puppy to him on the adjacent couch and at the mention of kisses, he promptly slid from his daddy's lap and headed my way. He started in for a kiss, but quickly switched it up and honked my nose instead. We all had a good laugh and Ty went back for more snuggle time with Ben.

    I watched Ben and Ty play for hours. Tag, hide-and-seek, catch, basketball, and floor wrestling (can you tell I'm outnumbered by boys?). Ty would go through intervals of concern and say, "Muma. Food?" He is a master chef in the making and really digs all the Melissa & Doug play food he got for Christmas. I would ask for oatmeal and orange juice or a banana and some toast. Sometimes my order was perfect. Other times it included slight variations that only a toddler mind would put together.

    When bed time rolled around, Ben let me do the honors since he spent a majority of the day with our boy (bed time rocking and reading is a coveted position). We were on our third installment of itsy-bitsy spider when Ben crashed our party. He said he couldn't stand being apart from the fun. The three of squished in the rocking chair and rocked together. Ty laid his head on my chest. I laid mine on Ben's. Ben told Ty what a good boy he is and how much joy he brings our family.

    I told Ben what a good dad he is and that I never want to live life without him.

    We had a couple rounds of nose honking (a fond family game...each nose has a unique sound) and paci stealing before we started talking to Ty about adding a brother and/or sister, this summer. Ty just listened to our words and snuggled closer. He laid his hand on my chest and said, "Muma." Then did the same for Ben, "Dadd-ee." And ended on himself, proudly proclaiming, "Ty-Ty."

    Ben said, "You're right sonny. What a smart boy you are!"

    We enjoyed a few minutes of quiet before, finally, putting Ty to bed.

    Ben ran to the grocery store, since we didn't get to it, today, and I was left soaking in the fun memories of the day. Of course, it's no fun to be sick, but sometimes I think God uses our bodies to grab our attention and force us to slow down. It's hard for me to do it, otherwise.

    I wouldn't trade, today, in for the world.

    I am eternally grateful for all that God has done in our family. Somewhere between the hours of couch and sleep time, God reminded me of Day 165. [No, I didn't remember the number off the top of my head...only the content.]

    Jeremiah 29:11-14 and Deuteronomy 30:3-4 are two of my favorite promises, and I view them hand-in-hand. Jeremiah is a little more familiar, but the words never fail me. I know the plans I have for you...They are plans for good and not disaster...If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Those scriptures also go on to talk about God returning fortune and bringing his people home. Deuteronomy mirrors the same promise: The Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.

    Those words are so rich and meaningful to me. I remember that place of banishment. I felt scattered and torn and hollow as I walked through the desert of barrenness. I remember writing about this promise on Day 165, hundreds of days before Tyrus lit up our world. The Lord brought it to my memory, today, as I sipped tea and drank in my family.

    He gave my heart a small nudge and said, See, daughter. See how I worked good from disaster? See how I gathered you back from distant lands and brought you home? Do you see how my plans, although not yours, are better?

    Yes, I see. Oh, how I see! And I know there is so much, yet, to come. This is a shout-it-from-the-rooftops kind of day.

    God is good!