Our Miracle Boy

Most of you have seen our video, introducing our newly official son, Dalton. Our adoption day was Friday, and we spent the weekend celebrating big.

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We wanted to show off his handsome face and let you oooh and ahhh over those blue eyes like we do. But what we couldn’t fit in the video was the miraculous entwining of Dalton’s story and ours. God’s hand moved mightily through our lives, and I don’t believe the details are small coincidences.

The first miracle of our meeting was announced during the first home visit after Dalton was placed with us. Our support-worker said, “he never should have come to you. They made a mistake.”

On the day Dalton was to be moved, the DCS employee making the call mixed something up, and called us by mistake. She was supposed to have called a waiting family, pre-selected as an adoptive home. She was supposed to call someone else. But she called us. And we said yes. Thank God for her mistake.

I also discovered, reading through old journals, that on the day Dalton was born, I had a dream that woke me in tears about our baby. We had adopted a newborn baby and it felt so real, my heart ached for weeks afterward. I believe God was telling me I was a mother. I only needed to wait.

But my favorite detail of our miracle boy’s story is this: on the day Dalton went into state custody the first time, we signed up for our first foster care classes.

It was our first step toward each other. Both of us stepping out into the unknown at the same time. Our stories took time, both stories moved through pain and fear. But God knew. The stirring in our hearts was big and planned from the start.

As Dalton so beautifully explained a few nights ago before bed, “I was in your heart and God told you, ‘be patient’ and you were waiting for your Dalty and God told you, ‘wait for that Dalty!’ and then I was here!”

Thank you, Lord. My son is here.

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Six Months

When I was standing in Chipotle six months ago, talking on the phone to the DCS worker and I said, “YES! How long?” I heard, “we think 6 months.” Knowing full well that things are never that cut and dry with the foster care system, I geared up for 6 months but earnestly stepped into the unknown.

The thing about foster care is that plans get changed, people have small victories and large ones – small setbacks and large ones, court dates are scheduled and rescheduled, paperwork gets shuffled, caseworkers quit, unknown after unknown, delay after delay, we plug along because God asked us to step into this unknown. We say, “for however long our family looks like this, we thank you, Lord” in our nightly prayers. We ask for strength for the possible worst outcomes and we hope and we hope and we hope for what we think is the best.

In most hard things in life, I have found that the unknown is the hardest part… the part that makes me think, “I can’t do this,” so many times. And I can’t do it. I am sometimes bitter and possessive, I am fighting a battle that is hard and foreign, and I am always forgetting to trust.

But this week we hit the six month mark of our life with D, and we have some upcoming meetings regarding his future and our future. We still don’t know if D will be with us forever or if our D is only “our D” for a short while. In this small milestone, I’ve been thinking and praying for all of us who know this boy and love this boy and call him “our D.” Our happy, determined, strong and smart boy. He doesn’t have Dave’s nose, but he is a hard and determined worker, just like his Daddy Dave. He doesn’t have my eyes or my hair, but he is cuddly and loves to be silly, like his Mama Steph. He’s SO polite and smart, like his Mommy J and he is kind and brave like his Daddy J. He looks just like his birth mom. Just like her. There are so many more people who know him as “their D”- people I will likely never meet, never even know their names. So thankful that our D is so loved.

We have seen him change so much in just these 6 months. He loves to talk. All day every day chatting away. He trusts that I won’t hurt him when we are playing. He believes Dave when he tells him he’ll be home after work. He says, “I love you too,” when I tell him 1000 times a day that I love him. He just fits here, with us. It feels like it has always been us. It is fulfilling and joyful and life-giving work. So this week when more unknowns arise and more details get thrown into the mix, I will thank God for our D, for *this* family- however long our family looks like this- and I will choose to trust.

We are still walking the unknown. We are hoping for our family to be forever, but trying to hope with our hands lifted high, opened to release him if we must. It will be fiercely painful if D leaves us. We are not superheroes. Our “we could never let go” feelings are not gone. We have just begun. Still we pray – for however long our family looks like this, we thank you, Lord.

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Two Weeks In

It’s been two weeks since little D came to our home.

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We are getting into a routine, learning about each other, and figuring out how to function. Our everything-is-perfect honeymoon stage was over when he started cutting some two-year molars. Lots of fussiness and not feeling great got us really familiar with each other really quickly. I got very tired. Mamas with teething babies, you are warriors. Consider yourselves saluted.

In the past two weeks, I stopped most personal hygiene, feeding myself meals, and remembering how to relax. I’m still working on those actually, but we’ll get there. I am dead tired by 8:30pm and wide awake any time D makes a noise at night. My brain has turned to mush. Productivity of any kind is a joke.

But we have such joy. The majority of our days are filled with laughter and silliness. I teach him new words like “awesome” and “hey-oh” and he teaches me HIS new words. “Beeylap” is black, “mowm” is milk, “yoga!” Is Yo Gabba Gabba. As soon as he goes to bed at night, I look at pictures and videos of him and miss him a little. I laugh and laugh at jokes he makes and dances he does. We really like each other. Our little family of three is happy, and happy to be happy, and happy to be figuring things out.

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Welcoming D

We got the call for another placement Tuesday. A newly 2 year old boy needed to move foster homes, and we made the easy decision to take him in. I was able to talk to his former foster parents (who had D for 6 months) quite a bit on Wednesday and am truly blessed to have heard their advice, stories, and prayers for little D. What an encouragement that transition ended up being for all of us! Wednesday evening, D came home to us for the first time.

Now, when I say “came home” some of you probably get nervous. You probably think I should be careful, I shouldn’t get too attached, that anything could happen, etc. The truth is that, for me, doing the best job I can do, in the time with D that I have been given, means sacrificing. What may be pain down the road is joy-filled, life-giving love now and that will always be worth it. This is our D. This is his home. We love him dearly.

I’m a little overwhelmed (but not at all surprised by… we ALL knew this was coming) what I feel for him already. He is funny and kind, laid-back and full of adventure. He has wrapped himself around our hearts in some really big ways – YES, even Dave’s heart! 🙂 We are trusting The Lord to hold on to all 3 of us. We know that his great big plan for Dave, me, and D is awesome, regardless of how long we are together.

We are expected to have him for 6 months, but our case manager hinted that it could be longer. And after 2 1/2 days of absolute joy and the best sort of overwhelming exhaustion, I can honestly say 6 months doesn’t seem nearly long enough.

We love you already, little D! Welcome home!

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Little A

What I thought was going to be a 2 week vacation turned into a 1 week vacation, and here’s why: there’s a 6 year old girl sleeping in my house.

At 6:00pm, my mom and I were driving into New Orleans on our way toward Gulf Shores to see my grandparents and the beach. I got a call from DCS asking if we’d be willing to take a 6 year old girl in to our home.

And my mind did one of these: WHAT?! Uh… well… I’m 9 hours away. So… ? And then I called Dave and he was all, “Your call. I don’t want to ruin your vacation.” Ha! Right. And my mom, being so very much herself, said, “well let’s head to Nashville!”

And so we did. Or, we are. We just crossed the Tennessee state line on our way back. Dave and A (as we’ll refer to her online for her protection) are asleep at home.

Around 11pm she got there, and Dave signed paperwork and introduced her to our home. She asked him to read her a book before bed, so he did. And then my heart exploded.

In about an hour, I’ll be sneaking quietly into my home that is changing right this very minute, and try to peek into her room quietly. HER ROOM that is living up to its purpose FINALLY after 4 years of our waiting and praying. And I will try so hard to sleep for a few hours so I can wake up and meet my sweet little A. Welcome little one.

Our Home Study

Time for a brief update on our home study! Every family who is adopting or fostering has to have a home study. Someone comes in to your house, interviews you, and does an inspection of your home to make sure it’s safe and livable.

After getting ready for Porter Flea, making handmade Christmas gifts, and having a house guest all month… my house had gotten pretty messy pretty quickly. I am capable of big messes in little time. So with a weeks notice, we began to clean. But not just any clean. We scrubbed, we reorganized, we downsized furniture and drawers, we rearranged things and added to our storage space under the house. It was a LOT of work. Thankfully, I had help and by Wednesday evening, our house was sparkling and ready to be inspected.

Our home study writer was so sweet! She said that we were really on top of things and organized (first time anyone’s EVER said that about me) and that she could tell we had put a lot of thought and time into getting our home ready for these kids.

Legally, she has to come back to our home once more before we can get a placement. But she said our house was ready to go and she didn’t see anything that needed changing, so she’s writing the home study packet now and will be able to submit it as soon as she comes back (January 7th).

Technically we could have a placement as early as January 8th. We do not expect it to be QUITE so soon, but she mentioned that a lot of her families have been getting placements awfully quickly.

So there ya go! All of our hard work was worth it; we knew it would be. And now we are trying our very hardest to relax here in Missouri while our paperwork is finished up in Tennessee. I just woke up from a lengthy nap, in fact, and plan to do nothing but lounge in pajamas for the rest of the day. I’m so thankful for all you who prayed for me and helped me out! 20121223-145419.jpg20121223-145603.jpg20121223-145631.jpg

The White Box

On the top shelf of my closet, for the past three years, you would have found a white box filled with baby items. Shoes, clothes, bibs – items I found on sale or received as gifts… it was my “someday” box. It got dusty. It got pushed around behind other items and rarely taken down. It was too painful. I’d toss something into the box without looking if I had anything to add. I loved that box. And I hated that box.

Tonight as I was re-organizing the foster kids’ room for the millionth time, I started doing inventory of the items I have for future foster kids. I decided to go through the white box. I pulled out onesies and toys and smiled over all the fun things for these unknown children who will be a part of my life soon. I was getting seriously giddy about all the stuff in the box and all the ways my life is going to change.

But I began to get teary when I pulled out two baby tees my mom had given me in August of 2009 – one pink that says “sweet pea” and one blue that says “peanut.” I had just told her the news that Dave and I were going to try for a baby and she bought them, excited with me about the future. No doubt, she was imagining grandbabies with white skin and auburn hair, like baby Steph – thinking of rushing to the hospital as I called her, in labor, holding my sweet new baby and calling it “sweet pea” or “peanut” and rocking him or her to sleep. I was right there with her, imagining and hoping and dreaming about baby Hagen.

So much has changed since that August. Three years of negative pregnancy tests and blood work and trying and trying and failing. Three years of imagining and hoping and dreaming, but not seeing results. Three years of watching friends get pregnant, have babies, get pregnant again, have second babies. It’s been a really hard three years. But those three, long, hard, lonely years have brought me to this place I’m in right now. This place of being excited about bringing someone new into our home, learning their habits and preferences, getting to know their unique personality and hear their laugh for the first time. It’s not the place I pictured. The baby isn’t white with auburn hair anymore. My mom won’t be rushing to the hospital, Dave won’t be grabbing our hospital bag on the way out of the door, and I won’t be having contractions. Things are different – very, very different – than we all imagined. But they’re better, somehow.

Do I still hope all those three-year-old hopes? Of course! Do I still get sad sometimes when I think about the negative tests? Absolutely. But this new and different place is better. I don’t know how it’s better yet. I don’t understand it and I don’t know if I ever will. But I know that God doesn’t allow these hard things to happen for no reason. I know he’s growing me and changing me.

I know I will love the kid that comes into my home with everything I have. I know that I will do everything I can to be the kind of mother that this child needs. I know that Dave will have my back and be an amazing parent. Always. I know that my mom is going to be an awesome grandma and that I’ll call her with questions and worries and funny stories – just like I’ve been imagining for 3 years. I may not have a dusty white box in my closet anymore, but I have faith that this is better. Somehow.