Thursday, July 31, 2014


In the days trailing from the court room, my heart has been covered in mercy.

Interestingly enough, I've been in conversation with God, the last few months, on what "lesson" the adoption of our new littles will demonstrate for our family. Tyrus is our symbolic cornerstone for God's faithfulness. LJ represents his remarkable redemption. Up until the last few days, I had yet to pinpoint what banner Sweet Boy and Little Miss' story would hold high for our family.

For me, today, it screams mercy.

Despite my frustration over the drawn out court proceedings, my heart is so merciful toward Sweet Boy and Little Miss' birth mom. I think about her often and cry over her defeat. I can't help but think I could be her. If she had been born to my mother, she would be different. Had I been born to her mother, I would be different.

I watched her that day, finger the photos I had given her moments before. Her tears were haunting, devoid of hope. Every time Little Miss cries, now, I see her mother.

I don't mean to make an inequitable comparison, but I've been living in a bit of culture shock, as if returning from a third-world mission trip.

Not only have I been merciful in my thoughts toward the family members I met in court that day, my heart drips with mercy for Sweet Boy. I was always loving and compassionate toward him, but it's different, now. I only experienced seconds of his lifestyle, but it was enough to haunt me for days. There is no earthly explanation to how he survived his first three years.

I told his therapist, this week, that Sweet Boy's contagious giggle and bright eyes are a mystery to me. His circumstances should have left him cowering in a corner, hiding within himself. He's not just resilient. He is a miracle.

The challenges we're helping him work through fade in comparison to the light of the future God has for him.

I am in complete awe of what God is doing in these awesome boys.

I was compelled a few weeks ago to increase the depth of our training. I am, after all, raising three warriors. Up until this point, we've mostly been leading by example when it comes to our faith. We, of course, enhance our lessons with active church involvement and open conversations, but as the boys get ready to enter our public school system, I was feeling an urgency to be more intentional.

I found wonderful resources at our local Christian bookstore and committed to spending time discovering God,with the boys, before bed. We are reading through an adventure-themed new testament, spending a few minutes in an age-appropriate devotional, and then taking time to pray.

We take the new testament in very short excerpts, as it takes a lot of time to explain what is happening and why. Tonight, I wondered if we'll really make it through...but I'm glad we're reading the Bible, as-is, opposed to the shortened pictured Bible stories we've read to this point. I'm excited to teach them how to study and pray. Their hearts are so pure and accepting.

Sweet Boy spent so many months on the outside of our family circle, observing our interactions, but the barriers are collapsing, quickly, now. He calls Ben "daddy" and jokes, easily. He, regularly, seeks my lap for comfort and kisses me goodnight on his own accord. He never verbalized an understanding of faith, but readily jumps in, now, when we talk about God's goodness and pray for friends.

Tonight, during our prayer time, I was so moved by the sweetness of his prayer:
Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day...for the wonderful windows for us to look outside...for all the trees...and animals...for this us be responsible [tonight's devotion]. Amen.
I give God all the glory for protecting this precious boy's heart amidst the chaos of his life. He still has some insecurities and relationship-barriers to overcome, but he is doing so well.

Today, when we were walking out of church for VBS, Ty stayed back to hold the door for several moms coming through. When he caught up with me, he asked, "Mom, are we good, godly boys?"

My answer was YES!

They are strong and mighty; the enemy is already far beneath their feet.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I win.

My emotions were in an intense game of ping-pong, today. I was told that today's termination trial of parental rights would be a "slam dunk", an "in-and-out" case. I knew better and walked in feeling nervous. I just wanted to get the day over with, so that our family [specifically, Sweet Boy] can move on.

I was first to the courtroom. Soon followed by my new babies' birth mom. She didn't recognize me, but I reached out, right away, extending friendship. When I explained my role, she immediately started crying, asking every question that a mother away from her babies would ask. With tears pouring down her face she begged for reassurance, "Does he ask about me all the time?"

She searched my eyes for the answer she wanted to hear, but I couldn't give it to her. I couldn't lie. I offered gentle kindness, but was truthful in my responses. Well, mostly truthful.

She's so young. With such vulnerability, she asked me if I knew why we were there, today. I know she was told...but she was blinded by either delusion or narcotics, I'm not sure which. I didn't answer her, directly.

A few minutes later I met her family. The family that took care of Sweet Boy for his first 3 years of life. I wanted to dig a hole into the floor and sob. Imagine the most worn down homeless man you've ever seen - his tiredness for life; broken eyes; alcohol stench. And then imagine him raising your son. I had to compartmentalize to get through the morning.

We had to sit through another termination trial before ours. Birth mom sat in front of me, hanging on every word. At the point of give-up, she turned around and mustered a quiet, "Will you please let them know how much I loved them...?" I wanted to grab her tight and cry with her. Instead, I hugged her shoulder and said, "Yes. I promise I will."

Next it was our turn.

Birth dad was brought in from holding. I didn't know his name or anything about him, but the eery escort in with chains clinking and trailed echo, were unnerving. It was the first time I've ever witnessed tangible oppression. His eyes were wild and fierce as he scanned the room. I thought of my sweet girl's kisses and marveled at God's protection on her little life. She is oblivious to her beginnings.

All rise. Routine introductions. Attorneys approach the bench. Attorneys leave to consult in the judge's chambers. Everyone returns.

Trial can't continue. There was quite a bit of debate, but the issue boils down to an affidavit of parentage and the recent Sanders Supreme Court case ruling.

As I tried to understand all that was being argued, I, quickly, gathered that we had to push back the trial another month. If it was, purely, a process issue, I could have moved on through my day, simply battling minor frustration.

The problem is that birth dad has, now, been ordered to sign the affidavit of parentage. If he doesn't sign it he'll be in contempt of court. Not only did he verbalize his right and desire to sign, but also his plan to request services and custody.

Birth mom came alive in the hub-bub and interpreted the delay as a subsequent "last chance," requesting reinstated visitation (thankfully, to be denied).

It all felt like a lasting punch to the gut. I teetered between shouting in my seat and running for the Mexican border. The thought of dragging Sweet Boy through any more visitation or periods of waiting is sickening. He's come so far.

The morning droned on. Each revealed detail making my settled heart plummet. At one point, birth dad laser-focused me and intensely mouthed "Thank You" three times. It didn't quite compute and I was thankful when the officer stepped between us to break the fierceness of his stare. It wasn't until later that someone pointed out my misinterpreted "Thank yous" were, in fact "F### Yous". That made a lot more sense.

I waffled all day between complete retribution and unrequited compassion for birth mom. I was angry and frustrated and infuriated by the setback (that could waste up to a year's worth of time), but I couldn't deny the love in my heart for the young girl across the courtroom that was not given the same chances in life that I was.

I can't help my love for her.

No one in the courtroom was fighting for her. Believing in her. Or even being kind to her for that matter. In conversation with me, that morning, someone overheard her pregnancy reveal and used it to our advantage. While I am grateful for the intense commitment to our kids and their case, I was appalled at this advocate's reassurance to me, "Don't look so nervous. I'm gonna get those babies from her. And then I'm coming for the third one. I told her as much."

I wanted to run and cry from the courthouse, never to return. I don't belong. On either side. I feel too much. And, frankly, I'm not cut out for the political mess and arrogance.

Now, that I've had some time to process the experience and pull inward, I was able to un-earth my confidence in the Lord. It's all going to be okay....because He's in charge. I can't worry about what I can't control.

There are a few big question marks on how this case will twist and turn. If birth dad signs the affidavit (I think he will), and agency services are offered (even if he's in prison), there's no telling how long this could drag out.

In my heart, I know they're God's kids and believe he is entrusting them to our care...for a lifetime. What happened today, doesn't change my day-to-day. Little Miss will be up at 6am (yuck), the boys will eat their body weight in food, and we'll collapse in bed at the end of it, thankful we survived.

I had this thought on the way home. While heaviness, indeed, drapes our case...we've already won.

I win because I am a better mom for parenting Sweet Boy and Little Miss. I win because I get to hug and love on them every day. I win because I see life bubbling through Little Miss, even though the enemy tried to destroy it. I win because Sweet Boy stepped over the rubble of his guarded heart and entrusted me to hold his hand. I win as I watch Sweet Boy comprehend God's goodness and faithfulness to our family. I win because my kids are learning to love with open, thoughtful hearts. I win because my life is way beyond ordinary. I win because I am pursuing my passion.

I win because God is on my side.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And then she was mother to four...

It happened overnight, really. Something clicked. Two someones changed. I've always been the mom, but, I became MOM...or maybe just felt like mom? Either way, my baby was born to me, today.

Of course, it did not happen overnight. He's been in my house, in fact, for 150 nights, but today Sweet Boy called me "Mama". He meant it as deeply as I felt it.

It would sound so nice if I could have ended that sentence with "and we both cried". We didn't. In the circus that others might call "dinner time", he matter-of-factly asked for milk...but neither the "Mama" nor the "please" slipped my notice. Both words are new to his vocabulary...but, today, he wore them, comfortably, and I had time for a small smile on the way to the oven...and fridge - for milk.

I remember when we started preparing for a second adoption, long before we found LJ on, we often wondered if and how we'd be able to love another child as much as we loved Ty. I thought about that, today, when looking at each of my kids, realizing my heart overflows for each of them from a well that could never run dry. Its depth is not measurable.

I felt like Sweet Boy's mom for the first, last week. The moment stands still for me. Sweet Boy is enrolled in a summer program (in part for Kindergarten preparedness, in part for the security that being in school brings him). When I picked him up, the teacher pulled me aside and gushed praise for my little man. She is impressed with his heart and attitude, constant willingness to help others, and innate gift to create. My heart swelled with pride at every word and I knew in an instant that I was his mother.

Since that moment, our hearts have collided over and over and over, again. Every meal Sweet Boy is the first to the kitchen and asks to help set the table and then sits to talk to me until we're ready to eat.

He had to get a few shots at his doctor appointment. last week, and although he faced the nurse with a brave face, in the last moment before the poke, he looked in my eyes and said in a squeaky voice, "Will you hold my hand?"

Nearly every morning in the last week, he snuggles close to watch cartoons, while I feed Little Miss. His little hand hugging my arm. One day (pictured above), he risked the inch toward me and grabbed the tips of my fingers. When I squeezed back he looked at me and smiled.

Two nights, this week, he ran to my bedside in fear of his dreams and I hugged him tight until his breathing slowed and his peace returned.

As his guard lessens its grips, our affection increases. My movements are bolder. I kiss without asking and run my fingers through his thick, curly hair. He loves that. Often, he'll sit with me as long as time will allow and let me, gently, massage his head and back.

He bear hugs my leg, frequently, asks to pray at the dinner table, seeks my lap for comfort, and, now, calls me "Mama"...

My heart is too constricted for eloquent words.

The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23

I am proud of all of my babies...but my heart has a special sweetness toward Sweet Boy. He remembers the most and faced the greatest opposition. He has had to fight for love - giving and accepting - and process loss in a way most of us never have.

I'm not sure what lies ahead, but victory is ours. My son is home.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On Hold

Our trial was adjourned due to an outstanding (and complicated) child support lawsuit against Little Miss' punitive father. Our case cannot continue until that one closes. One of three things can happen: 1) The "state" won't be able to find him to serve his subpoena, in which case, we'll be able to continue after a set period of time (I think 6-8 weeks), 2) He will show up for his hearing and, voluntarily, sign over his parental rights, or 3) He will request agency services.

If the third option actualizes, we could be in for the long haul. As he would be working on his parenting plan, we would have to bring Little Miss for weekly visits (up to three per week).

Sweet Boy's case will be on pause until Little Miss' has resolution, in the event that both siblings require adoption in the end; the state wants them to stay together.

I let all of this news ruin my day, when I received it last Wednesday...but I've since chosen to put it out of my mind. I can't control the process or the outcome; there's no sense in worrying about what could happen.

We believe the end result will be the same. Sweet Boy and Little Miss will become permanent members of our family. The unknown is how long we'll have to wait and how difficult the disruptions will be for our babies that already have fragile emotions.

Dealing with the flaws of the system is infuriating when you're the one living in the mud, doing your best to love these babies through the slow process of healing. More than anything, Sweet Boy needs assurance that he's not going anywhere. Forever needs definition. I hate that his case could be on hold for up to a year, on the outside chance that someone who has never interacted with his sister, decides he wants to be a father.

I am not against birth father rights, but in this case, Little Miss' dad is with her birth mom. He cannot claim ignorance of her existence and, in fact, has had multiple conversations with the case worker on what he needed to do to gain custody. It's not fair to either of my kids that the birth father is offered a chance to parent, nearly a year after his daughter's birth.

Apart from being forced into a relationship with a stranger, Little Miss will be oblivious to the process. Sweet Boy is the one who will suffer. It's frustrating.

All we can do is wait, patiently...and hopefully...for good news.

To be honest, our days are too busy to do much else!