Our Adoption Story

I remember what it’s like to be in the midst of infertility and the heartbreak it brings.  I know the pain of saying goodbye to a foster baby who has been part of our family for many months.  I know what it’s like to suffer a failed adoption.  I remember searching out people who had been throughout those same experiences and craving the encouragement they had to offer.  Here is a glimpse* of our story, I hope it brings you strength to face whatever trials you are enduring.

*We feel like some of the details of our boys’ adoption stories are private and are not entirely ours to share.  When the boys are older, they will learn all the details and will be able to share them with those they choose.

  • Just Le me cry
  • Hanging On
  • Hope
  • Helen
  • Baby Steps
  • Grateful
  • One of those days
  • Wondering
 
I had hoped to share some luscious baby photos here as part of my photo-a-day challenge.  
When I decided to complete that challenge in July, our family had been selected by a birthmother and we were joyfully anticipating the arrival of a little girl, to be born this month.  I washed tiny baby clothes/blankets/burp cloths, prepared the bassinet, and dreamed of the new addition to our family.  We have been praying for this miracle for years and it was finally here!  Finally our turn!
 
After meeting the birthmother, she seemed to like our family even more.  She was especially smitten with our sweet Ellie.  And can you blame her?  There is not an 8-year-old girl on earth more awesome than Ellie (in my opinion...).
 
We were present in the hospital when the baby was born.  We held her just moments after she took her first breath.  We fell in love instantly.  It was beautiful.
 
That night (after some of our family was able to meet our sweet bundle) I woke up often, restless and anxious to have her close to me again.  And every time I awoke, the name we'd chosen for our baby immediately popped into my head.  I'd snuggle back under the covers, dreaming of the moment she'd be offically ours.
 
But that was not to be. 
 
 We received word the next afternoon that the birthmother was on the fence.  She still loved our family and didn't want to hurt us, but she couldn't bear to part with the baby.
And we completely understood.  
I will never forget that moment.
 
I hung up the phone and tried to pray. 
All I could say, between sobs, was, "Please....please...".
 
She made her official decision on Friday; she would parent after all.  
Our hearts were broken.  
We never thought we'd have to face this pain again.
 
We have spent the past few days grieving.  Jason and I have both burst into tears unexpectedly (for example: I completely broke down in the middle of church.  Not pretty).  Every day we cry a little less and feel a little more hope and peace for our family.  After all we've been through, I know more than ever that God has a plan for each of us.  Everything happens for a reason.
 
As I was washing dishes--and crying--on Saturday, this song came on the radio.  I'd never heard it before, but it touched my heart at just the time I needed it. 
This is exactly how I've been feeling the past few days:
 
Just Let Me Cry
-Hillary Weeks
 

 

I believe that everything happens for a reason. 

 

We’re not just tossed by the wind, 
or left in the hands of fate. 
But sometimes life sends a storm that’s unexpected. 
And we’re forced to face our deepest pain. 
 

 

When I feel the heartache begin to pull me under... 

 

I dig my heels in deep, 
and I fight to keep my ground. 
Still, at times the hurt inside grows stronger. 
And there’s nothing I can do but let it out... 
 

 

Just let me cry. 

 

 

 

I know it’s hard to see. 

 

But the pain I feel isn’t going away today. 
Just let me cry. 
Till every tear has fallen. 
Don’t ask when... 
and don’t ask why. 
Just let me cry. 
 

 

When I agreed that God could put this heart inside me. 

 

I understood that there would be a chance that it would break. 
But I know He knows exactly how I’m feeling... 
And I know in time He’ll take the pain away. 
 

 

But for now... 

 

Just let me cry. 
 
I know it’s hard to see. 
But the pain I feel isn’t going away today. 
Just let me cry. 
Till every tear has fallen. 
 
Don’t ask when... 
and don’t ask why. 
 
Just let me cry. 
 

 

I have felt joy, 

 

the kind that makes my heart want to sing. 
And so my tears are not a surrender, 
I’ll feel that way again. 
 

 

But for now... 

 

For this moment... 
Just let me cry. 
I know it’s hard to see. 
But the pain I feel. 
Isn’t going away today. 
Just let me cry. 
Till every tear has fallen. 
Don’t ask when... 
and don’t ask why. 
                                                                      Just let me cry.

 

 
     Thank you to our family and dear friends for the many hugs and kind words as we struggle through.



 
                                                         Everything happens for a reason.
This summer has been pretty rough on our family.  I've been feeling discouraged and it's taken me until just the past couple of weeks to feel like myself again. All summer long I've had an image in my mind, a thought of reassurance that might make sense only to me.  But I feel like I should share it with you, too.
 
 
I am preparing to waterski (one of my favorite sports!).  The water is a little choppy, but this is my last chance to ski this trip so I decide to stick it out.  I am determined to make this happen, and perhaps a little desperate because the outcome is not entirely in my control.
 
All I can do is hold on tightly to that rope.
 
I set my ski and yell, "Hit it!"  I feel the resistance of the water underneath me. I lean back and grasp the handle as tightly as I can. I feel the boat tugging, pulling on my arms.  Water is all around me.  I could let go now and all the tugging would be over, the risk of crashing erased.
 
But, if I let go now I would not experience the exhiliration of skipping over the surface of the water; the wind in my face and red rock canyons all around (apparently, my image takes place at Lake Powell...).  I would not feel the adrenaline as I cross over the wake, the relief mingled with excitement as I get some air--maybe more than I anticipated--and don't botch the landing. 
 If I let go now, I'd be quitting.  
Giving up before I reach my goal.
 
Right now I am stuck hanging on.  I am forever being pulled by the boat and feeling the resistance necessary to help me achieve, and appreciate, my goals. Instead of pulling my arms, this tugging is in my heart.  Rather than weary muscles, I'm experiencing a worn-out soul. 
 
The waterski rope represents HOPE.  I am grasping on to hope as faithfully and as desperately as I can.  The outcome is not entirely in my control, but I believe that prayers will be answered.
 
The joy and exhiliration we are hoping for will come.
 
I just have to hold on to Hope.

My amazing Mama wrote a poem after our heartbreak last week.  We read it for the first time last night and Jason and I both cried.  Not hard to believe, I know.  This was not the sobbing-so-hard-we-can't-breathe crying we did for the first couple of days after our failed adoption, though.  It was more of the tears-running-down-our-cheeks-and-our-hearts-still-hurt-but-we're-slowly-moving-on type crying.

Progress.

Hope
 by Kaye Kindlespire
 
You were almost ours
and we were making plans
of nursery, toys, and swingsets,
and walking holding hands.
 
You were almost ours
and life was very sweet
when we saw your tiny face,
your fingers, hair, and feet.
 
We held you close,
loved you right then,
and felt so very blessed.
 
We didn't know that
Very soon,
We'd have to pass a test
 
Of faith, of hope, of choice
Of having to let go,
Of pain and sadness, lost tomorrows,
a future with you, we'd never know. 
 
You were almost ours
But God had other plans
and now we're back to dreaming of
holding our baby's hands.
 
ps--I love you, Mom.
{Grandma Helen--isn't she gorgeous?-- and my mom}
 
 
Today is my Grandma Helen's birthday. She passed away in 2003, but I still think of her often.
I remember her as a stunning woman with a radiant smile and beautiful voice.  She and my Grandpa were high school sweethearts. She was a nurse, a world traveler, and she spent her life in service to others.

I always felt particularly close to her because my birthday falls just the day after hers. I remember many joint celebrations, and can still hear her singing "Happy Birthday".  (I think she might be horrified to hear how our family sings that song now *Dad and David*, ahem) She was also a year ahead in school, just like I was.
 
This beautiful woman has always been an example of strength and faith to me. She was extremely blessed throughout her life, but she also faced difficult, heartbreaking challenges. Brain tumors, the death of an infant daughter, infertility...
 
 

 

{Four generations-- Great Grandma Bauer, Grandma Helen, My Mama, and me}
 
 
 
I feel more drawn to her now than ever.  Just like in our little family, my dear mother is her parents' only living biological child.  My grandparents then adopted 3 boys, my "favorite uncles" ;).  
And I know, and have always known, that those fun, protective uncles were meant to be ours.
 
I have been thinking of Grandma a lot in the past years.  Wishing she was here and I could talk to her, that she could give me strength and patience in this seemingly endless waiting. Though she is no longer physically here, I still feel close to her.  Her example, her faith and her love helped to shape the woman I am. I still draw strength and encouragement from her smile.
 
Happy birthday, Grandma.
I love you!
 
"Mom, if you get scared you just have to take baby steps, right?" 
 
Ethan asks this as we hike through a steep section of trail.  I agree and we slow down so he can take his time.  He began the hike clinging tightly to my hand.  He doesn't like trails with a drop-off on one side (see the last time we hiked this trail) and needed some extra reassurance.
 
His question sparks a thought: we are all scared sometimes.  Scared of moving forward with our dreams because they take us outside of our comfort zone.  Scared of pursuing greatness because we might fail.  I feel that way sometimes, don't you?
 
But if I keep my dreams in view and concentrate on taking "baby steps" in the right direction, progress is made.
 
 
Ethan focused on putting one foot in front of the other and before I knew it he had released my hand and was walking ahead of me, confident and secure in his role as Hike Leader.
 
Singing one line of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain", loudly and endlessly.
 
And our challenges are the same.  
With enough baby steps behind us we suddenly realize we are no longer afraid.

 
The kids and I reached our goal, enjoyed the view and began again with baby steps toward the car. I contemplated my goals on the way down and resolved again to continue moving forward.
 
My burdens felt lighter after time spent outside in the sunshine, learning from my son.
 

 

"We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes."
John F. Kennedy
 

I have been rather quiet here lately.  Much of my writing time over the past weeks has been spent on preparing our adoption papers.  Jason and I had to answer countless in-depth questions, separately and together.  It has been a long process, but I'm happy to report that we are (mostly) finished!

 I think.

It has been quite a time of introspection; thinking about our lives, our trials and our strengths.  The good, bad and ugly about every aspect of our lives.  Revisiting the emotions surrounding our infertility has been difficult for me.  I read this quote today and loved the imagery of it:

"The horror faded. I left it behind me in that terrible winter, but the sadness remained.  Gradually over the years, it became a member of my family, like our old dog sleeping in the corners.  I got used to my sadness, and I developed a kind of affection for it.  I still have conversations with it on cloudy days.  Come here, sadness, I say, come sit with me and keep me company.  We've known each other for a long time, and we have nothing to fear from each other."
--Reeve Lindbergh  in "No More Words"
(daughter of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who, like her mother, lost her first son before his second birthday.)
 
The idea of the sadness I experience becoming a part of me , just as my hope and faith shape me into who I  am, is a beautiful thought to me. The horror is gone, the overwhelming grief has passed, replaced with gratitude for innumerable blessings and answered prayers.  But at times, my heart still aches.  And I think that will always be true.
 
(I am not assuming our infertility grief is the same as losing a child, but tied up in that grief is the heartbreak we've experienced over losing our foster babies.  Two boys in particular.)
 

I am humbled by the outpouring of love and support we have received lately.  For example, the homeschool co-op we're a part of is high on that list of dedicated supporters.  They have taken on our cause and are working together to raise money for our adoption.  They've got fundraisers planned throughout the rest of the school year: bake sales, garage sales, bread orders (delivered weekly), selling pumpkins grown in our gardening club over the summer, and more. All the proceeds are going toward our dream of adding another little one to our family.

I am at a loss to express my gratitude.  These families have their own trials and difficulties, but they are excited and enthusiastic about donating time and money to help our little family grow.  I am overwhelmed by their kindness.  Truthfully, I feel a little guilty and shy about accepting their help.  It's much easier for me to be on the giving end than the receiving end.

As I let go of my apprehension, however, I feel thoroughly and completely loved and blessed by good friends and family.

Thank you.

I don't often talk about our infertility struggles.  It's not an easy topic to discuss as it's very personal and I have a hard time imagining anyone would really want to hear me complain about it.  So most of my posts are positive and upbeat.  I generally just brag about our adorable children or my amazing husband. And for the most part I don't let myself dwell on the fact that we'll never have another biological child.  I am incredibly blessed, and I realize that.


But today is just one of those days.  I have talked to several friends/relatives/neighbors/complete strangers this week who are expecting babies (and I really am thrilled for you friends/relatives/neighbors and strangers, please don't take this the wrong way!). It seems like literally everyone we know either just had a baby or is about to. (Logically, I know this is not true.)  I'm having baby-jealousy issues. At times I feel like infertility is a punishment for not being patient enough with the children I do have. I am longing for a child I don't have; a feeling that is very difficult to explain.  I know our family is not complete but have no way of knowing when/how/if a child will join us.  
 
We are getting ready to accept foster placements again.  This is a decision I am both excited and anxious about.  Am I ready to do this again?  Or this?  I'm not sure my heart can handle another heartbreak like that.  
 
Rather than dwelling in this hum-drum state, I need to count my blessings.  Here are two big ones:

{on an nature walk with my little crazies.  They decided to practice their hoity-toity faces for some reason}
 
These kiddos are miracles.  I try to remember that every day.  Why is it that I can't always be content with these two?  What is it that makes me so heartbroken when I need only look into their grubby faces to know I am incredibly blessed by a loving Father in Heaven?  We have known so many incredible couples who hope and pray and long for one child.  And I have TWO!  

Sometimes a poem just pops into my head. It's been happening more often lately. And last time I felt the need to share it and learned that it was just what a dear friend needed to hear. In the early hours this morning, this poem came to me. I have had a lot of feelings jumbled inside me lately, and this is how they came tumbling out:

Wondering...why life never turns out the way I think it will.
Waiting...to discover my path.
Feeling...frustrated about what I can't control.
Thinking...about what I must do.
Reaching...for all I can be.
Praying...for strength.
Wanting...the answers right now.
Learning...to be patient.
Finding...joy in what I have.
Asking...why bad things happen to good people.
Loving...more deeply than ever.
Doing...my best day by day.
Trying... to put others first.
Wishing...for more.
Watching...the world move too quickly.
Dreaming...of better days for all.
Holding...my little ones tightly.
Keeping...my goals on my mind.
Hurting... because I can't help much.
Hoping...what I do makes a difference.
Trusting...in my kind, loving Savior.
Stretching...myself, just a little.
Receiving...love and comfort from Above.
Knowing...God has a plan just for me.
And life always turns out BETTER than I think it will.
 
Wondering

There are three different tabbed sections here.  Make sure you scroll down so you don’t miss anything!

  • What Life is Like When A foster Child arrives
  • Why I don't care whether you breast feed or foumula feed
  • A rant about the term "real Mom"

We doubled the number of children at our house this week. Yep, it's been busy.  We first heard about our new foster placements in the middle of last week.  I immediately felt powerfully drawn to them. Ask my sweet, patient husband...there were some powerful emotional outbursts around here as I attempted to wait patiently to see how the situation would play out.  I think I've mentioned this before: I am not good at patiently waiting.

After a couple of painfully slow days, we learned on Friday that we'd be bringing two little boys into our home.  We don't know the whole situation at this point.  We are attempting not to get our hopes up (yes, you've heard that before).

The first couple of days were rough, as they always are.  These poor kiddos have recently been through the most traumatic event of their lives; something no child should ever have to go through.  Each time we receive a new little one (or two), our lives stop for the first several days.  I do not make "to-do" lists.  I don't do much cleaning or work on extra projects. Sometimes I don't even turn my phone on (sorry if you've been trying to reach me). We focus on the sweet little person who is so in need.  We get to know each other.

Usually these small people have had no sort of routine, order or structure in their lives.  Sometimes they are accustomed to going a long, long time between meals.  We spend our first few days introducing them to our healthy home.  Here, we have regular meals. Sleep and rest time are important. We read lots of books; give lots of snuggles, tickles and kisses; we play together and spend a lot of time outside.

We have seen huge progress in these boys over the past couple of days.  When we first met them, they were terrified and exhausted (for good reason).  But as we have regularly met their basic needs, their sweet and silly personalities have begun to emerge.  More smiles and words, more trust.

I have seen changes in Ellie and Ethan as well.  There has been less bickering, fewer arguments and more giggles.  Toys have been willingly shared with our new arrivals.  Ellie, especially, has been a huge help.  I literally could not have made it as well through these first difficult days without her.   Her kind, loving nature emerged more than ever this weekend.  Her bossy-go-gettive-ness took a turn toward jump-in-and-be-helpful-ness and what a joyful thing it has been for me to experience that.

Try as I might (which, truthfully, is not very hard), I am already falling in love.  Having felt so overpoweringly about these two from the get-go makes me wonder what is in store for us.  An inkling of our family being complete has entered my heart.  It's all I can do to not go back and erase that last sentence; what if I'm wrong?

 I suppose there is one thing I can count on for sure: right now we are doing what our family is meant to do.

Breastfeeding vs. Formula

This subject has been on my heart lately, and because I have a different perspective than most mamas I feel the need to share.  It may be that I am ultra-senstive to this topic as I am up to my eyeballs in the newborn world again, but it seems to me that this debate is everywhere.

{Ellie}
 

For the record, let me state that I began my motherhood career absolutely pro-breastfeeding.  I nursed our biological daughter until she was over a year old. If I had never become a foster/adoptive mama, I would be wholeheartedly and firmly in the exclusive breastfeeders camp.  However, that is no longer the case.  Through many experiences caring for foster children and the boys we've adopted, my opinion has changed.

There is only one question I believe we should be concerned about when it comes to the way we feed our babies:

Are you feeding your child?
 
Period. Nothing else matters.

Yes, healthy food is important. I absolutely believe in whole foods and lots of fruits and veggies. But more important than that is the absence of neglect.

Our family has personally seen the trauma of neglect in infants as young as 5 months old.  Our most emotionally draining foster placement was a little boy I'll call D.  D came to us when he was 5 months old; a darling but distant little guy.  He had been left in his crib, unattended and ignored, for most of his young life.  His cries for food had gone unheard for so long that he had lost the ability to communicate that he was hungry.  Not only were his physical needs unmet, but he lacked the important bonding time feeding presents.  He seemed unable to connect to those who cared for him.  
 
Our first couple of weeks caring for D were extremely difficult.  He had no reason to trust that his needs would be met; he was taken from the only enviornment he'd ever known and he didn't know how to express himself.  He cried like a wild animal for hours at a time.  I've never heard anything like the sound he made.  It was haunting and heartbreaking.
 
But after a few days of a regular feeding schedule (we went by the clock at first, because he had lost his hunger cues and would not signal that he needed to eat), D began to change.  As I held him to feed him a bottle, he began to look me in the eye.  Instead of arching his back away from me, he would lean in to snuggle.  Slowly, he began to share his dimpled smile. 
 
After just a couple of weeks, he was a completely different child.  He laughed uproriously and played with Ellie.  He started to whine when he felt hungry.  His turnaround was the most miraculous we've seen so far.
 
Meeting his physical and emotional need for nourishment changed him.
 
{Ethan}
 
Another placement, a 3 year old girl named A, also struggled with hunger. She was extremely articulate, as well as tiny and fragile. It took me a couple of days to recognize that she was bingeing at each meal.  When she first came to our home, she ate and ate and ate.  I assumed she was just exceptionally hungry because she had had a long and difficult day (again, being removed from the only home she'd ever known).  But after we'd shared several meals I was sure she was purposely stuffing herself.  We had a chat about her eating habits that went something like this:
 
Me:  What is your favorite food to eat?
A: I don't have a favorite.  I just like every food!
Me: I can see that!  
A: But I don't like cat food.  That's yucky, but I eat it sometimes.
Me: Why do you eat cat food if it's yucky?
A: I just do when I'm really hungry.  We don't have a lot of food at my house.
 
Again, it took time.  But as A became more comfortable in our home we had more talks about food.  We talked in depth about eating just until "your tummy feels happy".  It took several days of regular meals, and healthy snacks upon request, for her to believe my claims that she would not go hungry in our house.  She would not have to eat cat food. A had felt the effects of neglect for so long that she may always struggle with food-related anxieties.  But we helped her begin to heal.

{Elijah}
Given that background, I think it's easy to see why I think the breast vs. bottle debate is ridiculous.  
 
Are you feeding your baby when she is hungry? 

Are you holding him close and bonding during those quiet feeding moments?
 
Almost all of us are doing our absolute best as parents. Why all the fighting about this topic? How about we focus on supporting each other, and building each other up to face the challenges that parenthood presents?
 
Relax.  Enjoy those beautiful, slow moments. Breath your baby in, listen to those adorable grunts he makes while he drinks. No matter what kind of milk you feed her, before you know it your tiny person won't be so tiny any more.

These moments are fleeting.
 Let's ditch the guilt and just enjoy them.




**One of the really crummy things about being a foster family is that we don't ever get to find out what happens to "our" little ones once they leave our home.  We would have adopted either of these children in a heartbeat, but we have no control over where they end up. And we don't even get to know where that is, in most cases.**

I'm feeling the need to vent about something and hope you won't mind. I am generally not easily offended, but there is a scenario that happens to us fairly frequently lately, and I don't like it.

Often when we run into old acquaintances, or meet someone new, the topic of Ethan's adoption will come up. (Mostly because Ellie still loves to talk about how he's "stuck to us" and she'll bring it up with anyone and everyone, so I feel the need to fill in some of the details.) Inevitably, they will ask one of the following questions, or something like it: "Where is his "real mom"?" or "Is there any chance his "real mom" could come back into the picture?" I generally say something like, "Nope! He's ours forever!" or "His birth mother's rights were terminated. So he's not going anywhere!"

But what I want to say is: "Can we define "Real Mom"? His "real mom" is the woman that brought him home from the hospital, the one who fed him countless times in the middle of the night. She's the one that has changed thousands of diapers, and fed, bathed and clothed him every day of his life. She was overjoyed to see his first smiles and will never forget the first time he laughed. His "real mom" is the person that swaddled him, brags about how sweet and intelligent he is, takes him on walks, and pushes him in the swing. She's the one that has rocked him to sleep and sung him lullabies as many as 4 times a day for the past almost 9 months. His "real mom" reads him books. She talks to him in funny voices and makes silly faces and generally looks like a fool all without caring a single ounce about what the other people near her at the grocery store think; because those things make him smile and giggle. She is the one he looks for when he needs comfort. She has kissed his chubby cheeks hundreds of times every day. Ethan's "real mom" is the one that waited and prayed for years for him to join her family, and knew her prayers were answered the day his adoption was finalized. I'M his "real mom", thank you very much."

Obviously, this would not be an appropriate response. I know those people are just genuinely curious about his background (which is really not their business anyway) and don't mean to offend. It's just happened so often lately that I'm tired of it.

I feel much better and will hopefully not be so bothered in the future. Thanks!

  • Introducing Cutie!
  • It's all worth it
  • Court
  • Harder than we thought

I accidentally left my camera at my parents' house last weekend. I've never realized how many pictures I take until now. I won't have it back until next week, but I was able to borrow a camera so I could update ya'll on a few things. On Tuesday afternoon a bundle of joy was delivered to our doorstep. We've got a darling little 10 month old boy staying with us for a while. Because of the kind of foster care we do and for the babies' safety, and ours, we've decided not to post their names on the blog. I totally understand if that drives you nuts, it would for me! Feel free to email me if you feel you are loosing your sanity over the lack of names for our Cuties. (Also, for those of you who don't know, we are not permitted to talk about anything relating to their backgrounds or why they are with us.) But we CAN tell you all about how cute they are.

 

 

And this guy is CUTE. He's also huge. It is nearly impossible for me to hold him, or be in the same room with him for that matter, without kissing those cheeks. Repeatedly. Man, he's cute. Cutie and Ellie get along really well. They have had a blast crawling all over the house together. He makes kissy noises to get Ellie's attention (I wonder if that has anything to do with the several thousand kisses he gets from me every day...) which cracks her up every time. We really enjoy having him in our house. Ellie's Grandma Great (Rosalie) recently had a birthday. I asked Ellie what she wanted to do to tell Grandma happy birthday, and she replied that we simply must have a tea party. So we invited Grandma and Grandpa Great over for a lovely Tea Party complete with fancy hats, dresses, dainty sandwiches and a little tea set.

 

 

The Greats even brought a hostess gift for Ellie, which she was delighted with. A darling little book and a puzzle of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. She took it apart and put it back together several times that afternoon.

 

 

 

I just had one of those moments that makes you realize what life is all about.

It makes all the nose wiping, diaper changing, breaking up fights, late nights, shushing, cooking, cleaning (and cleaning and cleaning), weaning, rocking, feeding, teeth brushing, face washing and time-outs worth it. Not to mention the waiting, wondering, tears and prayers.

Ellie was in the tub and I was putting Cutie to bed. I was rocking my clean smelling, chubby, pajama-wearing, full-tummy, tired little guy in his dark bedroom. I was singing him some songs and he leaned in to snuggle (this is new within the past couple of weeks. He always wants to snuggle a bit before he sleeps, when he first came that was not the case). I could hear Ellie singing in her bathtub. Something about how she is Super Girl. After a song or two, Cutie's breathing slowed and he started to give me pats and rub my shoulder.

As I sat there in the quiet I had a breakthrough. I realized that no matter what happens to our little family in the future, wherever this little Cutie ends up, I am so grateful to have had him with us. To see the changes he's gone through and the happy and healthy boy he is, to think of the joy he's brought to our family--even if only for a short time--was enough for that moment.

It was the perfect mommy moment and I am so glad I was there for it. Really there. I wasn't thinking about what to do next, I wasn't in a hurry. I was able to sit and smell the sweet baby in my arms and think of how I'll never be the same because he's a part of my life.

Plus my little Super Girl was still singing away in the bathtub. That's one of my favorite things ever.

We had another court date today and here is the good news:

We are planning to adopt Peanut! (I realize that this is not very different from the last update you heard about him. But the court system works slowly sometimes and nothing is definite until you sign the papers. We are probably 98% sure this will happen. Good odds!)

Here is the other good news: Cutie is going to be reunified with his father. As we have gone through this process and gotten to know his dad better, we are really happy for this outcome. We feel blessed to have been able to help him turn his life around and we are grateful we could provide a loving and stable home for Cutie when he needed it. There will be a short transition period and then on March 2nd, Cutie will move to his father's home. If everything goes well, we will not see him again. This is hard to think about, but Jason and I are both surprised at how okay we are with this. What a great opportunity it's been! (If things don't go well, he will come back to us. But we are not planning on that.)

Thank you for your love and support for our family. Thank you for helping us to be able to provide this service!

"If you're listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders."

--Andrew Harvey


This quote is posted on the wall of the room where we received our foster care training; I've been thinking about it a lot since yesterday. When I wrote the update, the fact the our Cutie was leaving had not really sunk in yet. It's starting to now. We are still happy that we've been part of this process. And seeing the look on Cutie's dad's face yesterday was a powerful moment for both Jason and me. But living without this little boy is going to be harder than we thought. I also keep thinking about a comment made in our foster care class.

If your heart doesn't break when they leave, you didn't do your job.

We fell in love with Cutie, as did our families, and that is exactly what we were supposed to do. He needed and deserved our love and we have grown tremendously as a family through this experience. Our hearts are breaking, but that means we did what we were supposed to do.
Thank you for your words of comfort, I've read through them several times in the past day.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to share this picture. Jason came home the other day to find Cutie wearing a tutu. (That is what happens when things are quiet around here). He immediately took Cutie to the basement to show him how to use a drill. He's a well-rounded boy.



 

So here's my question: What would YOU do if you knew you only had about a week left with one of your favorite people in all the world?

  • Cutie Sighting
  • Cutie's Farewell
  • Visiting Cutie
  • Little One
  • Baby Arrives
  • Back to us

You'll never guess who we just ran into at the store! Our sweet little Cutie! I know it should make me happy that when he was a little nervous (because of the loud, surprised woman he thinks he remembers from somewhere getting in his face and wanting to eat him up. Yes, that's what I did.) he looked to his dad for comfort. Still, my heart hurts just a little bit.

He looks happy and healthy and his dad said he absolutely loves being a parent. Ellie was affected by it more than I expected her to be. She told me she was sad and looked close to tears as we got in the car. Then she wanted to talk about Cutie instead of listening to our book-on-tape on the way home (which is unheard-of lately). We remembered funny things about him to help her (and me) feel better. Interesting how we remember things differently after the fact... Ellie remembered how much she loved sharing her toys with Cutie and that he always liked to hold her hand. I don't think it went quite that way, but we'll let her keep those "memories".

Just though you'd like an update!

Last night both sides of our family joined us for a "Goodbye to Cutie Cookie Party". It was a fun night, filled with lots of yummy treats, visiting with our favorite people and celebrating the time we were able to spend with our Cutie. Thanks to all who came, and for all of the thoughts and well-wishes we've received today. (Don't you just love that picture of Jason throwing Cutie? It's taken me the entire 7 months that he was with us to get a good shot. How fitting that it happened on the last night he was here!)

We packed up all of Cutie's stuff and he is now living with his father. We are so happy and feel extremely blessed to have had him in our lives, even if only for a short time. It feels good to have made a difference. And seeing his dad's face today was just about all the reward we need.



 


We got to visit with Cutie last week! I am happy to report that he was happy and healthy and running around just like a 2 year old boy should (read: like a crazy person, jumping on the couch, bouncing a ball on the coffee table, etc.). He and his dad both seemed happy together and we are grateful for the role we played in reuniting them. It was a blessing for us to see how well they are doing and especially the love and trust between them. I left their home feeling totally content with the situation and thankful for our small part in it.

To add a surprising twist to our lives, we just took in our first foster placement in almost 18 months. At 3 years old, she's the oldest child we've care for yet. She'll only be with us for a couple of weeks, tops, but I am thrilled to have her here (I'm not allowed to post any pictures of her, by the way). We'll call her Little One (she's TINY!).

 
All but one of our placements so far have been under 1 year old. Most of them old enough to recognize that they are not with their parents anymore, but not old enough to talk about it. Having a conversation with Little One this evening just about broke my heart. She and Ellie were sitting at the counter having a bedtime snack and we had this conversation:
 
Me: Okay, after our snack it's time for bed.
 
Little One: Nu-uh...I'M not going to bed.
Me: Yep, it's late. Time for bed.
Little One: (looking outside to see that it's still light) Not for me.
Me: (thinking she's just not used to going to bed when it's light outside) Sorry, sweetie, it's bedtime for all the kids.
Little One: (tears welling up in her eyes) No, I'm going back to my dad's.
 
For the next few minutes I held her, with her arms wrapped tightly around my neck, as she cried. She told me repeatedly, "I don't want to stay here." Which I can absolutely understand. We talked about how scary it is to be in a new place, but she has to be with us for a little while and I'm so glad I got to meet her, etc. Eventually she got back down and finished her snack.
 
When the time came to read a bedtime story, she again broke down. But she let me hold her and we walked to the couch together. She, Ellie and I snuggled under a blanket, read a book and before it was over Little One was completely asleep on my lap.
 
I am remembering now the pull that got us into foster care in the first place. This overwhelming love I feel for our sweet Little One is not entirely my own. I am certain that our Heavenly Father is sending His love to her through me. He can't be here to take care of her, to hold her and play with her and help her experience a healthy family for possibly the first time ever. But I can, and I am so glad He has guided our family down this path. It's what we are meant to do.
We are thrilled to have a new foster baby in the house (we're not allowed to post pictures, sorry). I spent Saturday night at the hospital and brought home a newborn Sunday afternoon. He's sweet and easy and we all adore him already. The kids are constantly kissing him, and I have to confess I'm right there with them.
 
Last night Jason made cookie dough (no, not cookies...just cookie dough. Sorry for those of you raw egg haters!) and as soon as the kids got their spoons full they plopped down in front of Baby's swing to watch him.
 
No idea yet how long we'll have him. But we'll sure love him while he's here!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Back to Us

 

After a difficult custody hearing yesterday Baby went to live with his new family in Wisconsin. After having that sweet child for 6 months, our hearts are full of a jumble of emotions. We feel sad about the loss of the dreams and plans we unintentionally made about him being part of our lives forever.
 
We feel grateful for the opportunity we had to care for him for a while. We feel heartbroken for his birth parents. We feel frustration for "the system", but don't know what we could do to make it better. Ideally there wouldn't be a "system", parents would be healthy, stable, loving and fit to care for their children. But because that is not the case, some children need a place to be cared for and loved. We are happy to offer that love and stability.
 
We were able to meet Baby's new parents for the first time on Monday. After months of prayer and fasting that Baby might be the answer to our prayers, it was hard for us to face the fact that he might be leaving. My amazing husband set a great example for me in focusing our energy on loving this new family. It would be very easy for us to be angry with them, to be resentful of them "taking our baby away", but we didn't want that to happen. They are good, kind people.
 
They've been through the wringer the past 6 months, just like we have, waiting for an outcome with Baby. Communication was not the greatest during this case, and this poor family thought everything would be wrapped up by last Christmas. They were all ready to welcome a new baby in December and had no idea it was even an option that we may be able to keep him.
 
Emotions were high during court yesterday. The judge (who has been doing this for 30 years) cried as he read his verdict, something which has never happened before. The caseworker (who is fairly distant and unemotional) got teary as he expressed his sorrow for our family afterward. The Assistant Attorney General expressed how sorry she felt for our family, also with tears in her eyes. As the judge told us, they don't often have to choose between 2 good families. In juvenile court the choices are almost always clear-cut. It's heartbreaking to take a child from their birth parents. But if the parents aren't fit to care for their children, at the end of the day the judge and attorneys can go home feeling that they did a good thing for the child. In this case, he was choosing between two families that are healthy, loving and stable. One family had to be hurt, and the judge had the responsibility to decide.
 
We've cried more over the last 5 days than at any other point in our marriage. Last night we were feeling like we'd cried everything out, but as I type this the tears are flowing.
 
For Ellie, this is a part of life. She's seen 10 of our "babies for now" come and go. She loves them while they're here and misses them a bit when they go, but she doesn't remember life being any other way. Ethan is having a hard time understanding where Baby went. Every so often this morning he'll say, "I want Baby home...". He's sad, but it won't last long.
 
Mostly I feel gratitude. The fact that we have 2 children is an absolute miracle. I am so grateful for them, and look forward to focusing more on them. I look forward to getting back to "real life" without extra time away from them for court dates, doctor appointments, visits with birth parents, etc. But there is a part of me that wonders if/when we'll have more children. I'm a planner, and I want to know where they'll come from and when.
 
As I look back at my life I can see that God's plan for me is always better than my plan for my life. But why can't I always remember that? I am working at turning things over to Him, trusting His plan and doing the best I can with what I've been given.
 
So where do we go from here? Right now, our family is going to focus on healing. We plan to spend a lot of time together. We parted with Baby's new family last night with promises to keep in touch. I can see us being life-long friends with them, and I hope it turns out that way. As for foster care, we plan to take some time off for hearts to mend. We'll reassess whether this is something we want to continue later.
 
Last night Ellie reminded me of a quote from our foster care training, "If your heart doesn't break when they leave, you didn't do your job." I asked her, " Is your heart breaking?" She said "Yes". " Then you did a fantastic job!"
 
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, prayers and love. Our hearts are hurting, but that helps us know that we did our job.

There are 2 tabbed sections on this page.  Scroll down so you don’t miss anything!

  • Oh Baby!
  • Here He Is
  • It Didn't Take Long
  • Early Mother's Day Gift

Today at 3:00 we'll be picking up a new addition to our little family. Cutie's little brother was born Tuesday morning, and will be coming to stay with us. Here are some answers to the questions I'm sure you are thinking:

How far apart are Cutie and the new baby? 13 monthsHow big is new baby? 6 lbs 9 oz (I think)Are you prepared? Umm...we have clothes and a bed and diapers (and lots of LOVE). We are as prepared as we can be for a surprise newborn. We are excited and nervous. Mostly I just can't wait to hold a little tiny guy and keep him all to myself. Kristi always makes me give hers back.Are you crazy? Quite possibly.

I'll post pictures of the little guy as soon as I can. No promises as to how quickly that will be. I may be in need of suggestions for what to call him on the blog. Be thinking.

Here is some random cuteness from the past couple of days.

You know the food is good when he's got it up to his eyebrows.

Playing in the snow.


Poor Cutie had to just watch from the back door while Ellie played.



Just a quick post to show our new baby! He's the sweetest little thing. So far anyway. We'll see how things go tonight!

It didn't take long.

 

We are officially in love with our little Peanut. We love every bit of him.

His sweet face,

his tiny hands,

and wrinkly little feet.I especially love his furry ears and shoulders. Who knew hair on your ears and shoulders could be so cute?


Great news! We had another court date today. Peanut's birth mother's rights were terminated and we were approved by the judge to become his adoptive family! We are absolutely thrilled! We will be busy gathering paperwork and documentation over the next few weeks and will hopefully have this finalized by July. Hip, hip!

Thank you for all of your prayers on our behalf throughout this process. Our prayers are being answered! This is the best Mother's Day gift EVER!

  • Embarrassment
  • It's Official
  • Sealing Day
  • A Poem for Ethan
  • Something Weird

Definition: Embarrassment is an emotional state experienced upon having a socially or professionally unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others. Usually some amount of loss of honor or dignity is involved, but how much and the type depends on the embarrassing situation.


Our caseworker came for a visit today. I needed to sign some paperwork and he wanted to check in on Ethan. While he was there, Ellie brought out her beloved (and disgustingly dirty) Pink Baby. She promptly put Pink Baby into a drawstring bag and started hitting the bag, yelling, "Be quiet, baby! Go to sleep!" She thought this was hilarious. I probably wouldn't have minded so much if the person she was showing off for wasn't the caseworker! He's there to make sure Ethan is in a safe home. Luckily he knows our family well and he didn't seem the least concerned. I was horrified, though!


ps--Just to clarify, that is NOT how we get our baby to sleep!

As of today, Ethan Clarke Hillman is officially stuck with us! Hip hip, Hooray!


Here we are at the courthouse after the adoption was finalized. We're thrilled to be a family of four (although we've felt that way for a long time, it's nice to make it legal)! We can hardly wait for Saturday!


Yesterday morning we were able to have our sweet Ethan sealed to us in the Jordan River temple. The ceremony was small, just family and a couple close friends. It was perfect!

 

How does a mother know a child is hers and hers alone?
Especially when the child's not of her own flesh and bone?

I'm unable to explain how I know it, but I do.
I am the one God sent to earth to love and care for you.

It doesn't matter how you came, I just know that it is right.
I knew when you were tiny and I held you through the night.

I know each time I look into your gorgeous deep brown eyes.
I know whenever I tickle your luscious chubby thighs.

I know when we giggle, growl and crawl around the floor.
I know there is no other family who could love you more.

I know when I snuggle you in our beat-up rocking chair.
I know you are the answer to my countless whispered prayers.

The way I know seems to be what makes motherhood divine.
About this truth I have no doubt:

I know, son, you are mine.

--Heidi Hillman
December 2009
I was going through some pictures at my parents' house today. I found this one:
 
 
 
As much as that may look like our sweet Ethan, it's not. That's my little brother David. Weird.
 
Here's Ethan at about the same age. It blew my mind.
 
 
I guess it was meant to be, huh?
 
 
  • Announcing Elijah's Arrival
  • Elijah's Blanket
  • Hidden Hearts
  • Lucky
  • Finalization Day!
  • Dear Elijah
It took us a while to heal from our failed adoption heartbreak this past summer. Even weeks after the tears were dry, we didn't talk about babies in our house.  Adoption was a huge goal we'd been working toward for years  and we were too worn down with disappointments to dream any more. It felt like we'd never get there, and in our discouragement we settled into an unspoken agreement: let's move on.  We still hoped for a little one, but we needed to focus on the here and now.  
 
When we recieved a call in the middle of September letting us know we'd been selected by another birth mom, we didn't get our hopes up.  
 
We'd been here before. 
 
Several times (most often with foster children).  
 
We met the birthmom and instantly connected with her. We sat in a restaurant for two hours at that first meeting and talked and laughed until we started getting dirty looks from the staff.  Then we moved out to the parking lot and talked and laughed some more.  It still didn't seem possible that this could actually happen.
 
We kept in touch through our adoption agency for months.  We met in person several times and connected more deeply each time.  Before long Jason and I found ourselves saying things like, "I just LOVE her!".  
And it wasn't a superficial 'I love her because she tells funny stories and packs in more food than you could imagine possible from such a tiny person' love; it was deeper.
 
But it still didn't seem real.
 
We faced drama with the adoption agency, background checks (due to the governement shutdown), financial strain, and fear that this would all fall apart again. Unless it was necessary (because of paperwork that was due, etc) we rarely spoke about our pending adoption.  But we prayed about it daily.   Ethan made a point to pray for the birthmom and baby in every prayer he uttered. I began to wonder if we'd made a mistake in telling the kids about it.  After all, more than likely, it wouldn't work out.
 
We shared our news with a very limited number of people.  We just didn't want to have to talk about it if the adoption didn't go through.
 
But as time passed and we continued praying I began to have an inkling, a small glimmer of reassurance, that grew with every prayer.  
 
After a little bit more drama, including a c-section and time in the NICU, it actually happened.  
This giant goal we've been reaching toward for years is now a reality!
 
 
Elijah Thomas Hillman
December 2, 2013
7lbs 0oz
19.5 inches
 

 

 
We met our little boy minutes after he was delivered via c-section.
I still had lingering doubts at this point.  So much could still change. 
But we were undoubtedly in love.
 
{feeding Elijah for the first time}
 
 
Ellie and Ethan got to meet their little brother the next day.  We feel like this moment was a tender mercy from the Lord for our family. Elijah was placed in the NICU later that day and the kids would not have been allowed to see him there.  They have been with us every moment of this journey and have experienced the heartbreak along with us.  The day before Elijah was born, Ellie broke down.  Her heart was heavy with worry (as was mine) about the possibility of having our hearts broken again.
 Heavenly Father knew they needed this moment as much as Jason and I did.

 

 
 
We visited the birthmom and baby Elijah several times a day last week. With every visit our love grew, for both birthmom and baby. 
 
After just 4 days in the NICU, we brought our sweet boy home.

 

{my awesome sister surprised us with this sign}

 

 
We've jumped back into newborn mode around here.  Slower days that somehow seem more busy. 
Lots of snuggles, feedings, diapers. And every prayer includes a declaration of gratitude for this tiny miraculous boy and his strong, selfless birth mother.

 

 
We've received an outpouring of love from family, friends, and neighbors.  So many people anticipated the arrival of this tiny person!  We thank you for your prayers and encouragement throughout this process, even when we didn't believe you 🙂

 

 

 
How grateful I am for this time to slow down and appreciate each moment.  I find myself longing to be in the moment more than ever before.  So, if you try to reach me and I don't answer it's probably because I'm snuggling one of my little people.
 
Either that or taking a nap...
 

During the weeks leading up to Elijah's birth I was terrified the adoption would fall through, for good reason (and another and another).  I wanted to make something for the baby but was anxious to start, in case we lost him.

 

I needed something easy, something that I wouldn't have to think about or which could potentially add more frusration to my already distressed heart. So I knit this Super Easy Baby Blanket.

 I worked on it while we watched movies or drove in the car. I worked on it at the kids' lessons, deflecting questions about who it was for with white lies such as, "My brother-in-law and his wife are having a baby boy soon" (this was true, and it was my back-up plan to give the blanket to them if our hearts were broken again, but it was not an actual answer to the question). We hardly told anyone about Elijah until after we brought him home in an attempt to pretend it wasn't happening, so we wouldn't get our hopes up.

 

This blanket was my way to have hope without actually acknowledging how desperately we wanted this child to be ours. After all we'd been through, we were past the point of articulating our hopes and fears.  All we could do was wait. Each stitch represents a prayer for this little one who took so long to join our family, and is worth every tear we shed.


I finished knitting and cast off the blanket in the hospital room while Elijah's birthmother was in the early stages of labor. We were there with her, talking and laughing and dreaming of the boy we'd soon meet.

 As we did so our lives were knit together.  We will be forever indebted to that beautiful, strong young woman.  And this blanket, though very simple, will serve as a reminder of a time when our countless prayers were answered.


I have somewhat of an obsession with hidden hearts.  It began when I was a child and my room was decorated with millions of tiny multi-colored hearts.  And I mean millions.  Tiny hearts in a multitude of colors on the wallpaper, larger hearts all over my bedding.  It was an 80s heart-fest, I tell you.
 
As an adult, I have found them in less obvious places than my rainbow colored childhood bedroom.  In nature, for example.  On each vacation we take my goal is to bring home a heart-shaped rock to add to my collection.  It helps me to remember those precious moments with my loved ones, away from the day-to-day.
 
Hidden hearts are usually, in my opinion, spontaeously occuring, though at times they can be intentionally placed to brighten one's day.

 After a particularly rough day last fall (The short version: Ethan was throwing a HUGE fit in the middle of the Natural History Museum.  I told him that if he didn't calm down, we'd have to leave.  He didn't calm down, so we left.  He was extremely upset and was trying to punch/kick/scream as much as possible on the way out, so Jason picked him up and carried him in a way that would keep them both from getting hurt.  We knew that if we could just get him outside, we could help him calm down.  Most of the parents we passed on the way out of the museum gave us tiny "I-feel-your-pain" smiles.  We were calm, if a little embarrassed. After we got to the car, we had Ethan sit on the curb and were beginning to help him regain control when a lady screamed across the parking lot, "Do you want me to call the authorities?"  She proceeds to lecture us, belittle us, call us bad parents, threaten to call the police, etc. This went on for several minutes, during which Ethan was distracted and stopped crying and the lady was convinced that it was her calming influence which had helped him so greatly.  Jason was finally able to make her leave by repeating, "You need to go. Go now" several times. We moved on, helped Ethan and left.  I cried all the way home. That was actually not very short; I apologize.) my sweet friend and I went out for hot cocoa and a little venting time.


The server must have been very in tune (or maybe my red puffy eyes gave her a clue), because when our cocoa arrived, mine was adorned with a heart.

Later that same week (in the midst of the turmoil of waiting for Elijah's birth), the kids and I were working on a wet-felting project with that same dear friend and her children.  In the sudsy water appeared this perfect heart:

 

Call it luck or fate or whatever you'd like, but it seems to me that hidden hearts tend to pop up in places when they are most needed.  I've seen them in the sidewalk, on days when I'm discouraged.  I've seen them in the clouds.  There is one on the door to my bedroom, reminding me of the love within the walls of this home.

 
I recently painted this grove of aspen trees and intentionally placed a small heart on one of the trees.  It's tiny, but because I know it's there my eyes are drawn to it every time I walk past.
 
 
Here it is up close.  

 

 
 
You can imagine my delight when I discovered my most favorite hidden heart of all time, on this beautiful little boy.  He has a perfect heart-shaped birthmark on his neck.  It is difficult to photograph due to the depths of chub found on said neck.  But I assure you it is there!  Next time we meet in person, I'll show it to you.
 
 
See it right above my ring finger? 🙂
 


This hidden heart is like a love note from God.  It's like He included that tiny detail on Elijah's skin just for me.  He's saying, "It may not have seemed like I was listening to your prayers. But behind the scenes, in ways you can't comprehend, I was arranging things perfectly for you.  He is worth the wait, don't you think?"

I absolutely do.

Have you seen any hidden hearts in your life lately?

As we are drawing closer to finalizing Elijah's adoption (just 22 days now!) my mind has been flooded with memories of the other times in my life when I've felt so lucky.

We didn't know it at the time, but having a biological child should not have been able to happen for us. Logically and medically speaking, that is. Knowing what we know now --after years of doctor visits, treatments, waiting, praying, hoping and disappointments-- sometimes I look at Ellie and my mind is blown by the fact that she's here.

 

                                 

 
I will never forget hearing Jason's voice, full of emotion as a new daddy, proclaiming, "Oh!  It's a girl!" And what a girl she is!  An absolute miracle.  We had a one-in-a-million chance of having a biological child. And yet, here she is. Nine years old, brilliant, funny, crazy talented and gorgeous.
 
 
Fast forward 4 years.  After suffering an early miscarriage and strong feelings leading us to start foster care, we had been blessed to care for 8 foster children (not all at once!) in a short period of time.  We brought our 9th little bundle home from the hospital when he was two days old.  We were pretty experienced at falling in love with the little ones in our home by this point.  But something was different about this tiny boy.

 

 
After he'd been with us for about a month I had a near-breakdown at the thought of him leaving someday.  The self-talk we used in order to make it through heartbreaking goodbyes as foster parents (things like: "We were there for him when he needed us.", "We showed her what a stable family is for perhaps the first time in her life" and "We are not doing our job if we aren't sad when they leave.") was just not working.  After many tears and prayers, a calm feeling settled into my heart.  An impression in my mind said: He is yours. 
 
 The road would be long, we were far from finished. But all we needed to do was to hang on.  It took 7 more months full of court dates and legalities for the court system to catch up with what I already knew.  

 

 
The fact that we have Ethan is a miracle as well.  I won't go into all the details of how it came about.  Much of that story belongs only to Ethan and we will let him share it (when he is older) how and when he chooses. Looking back at every little detail that had to be in place, some of them years in advance, in order for this little boy to end up in our home is difficult for me to fathom.
 

                                               

He is ours, through and through.  He is sensitive, smart, extremely physical (in good ways and not-so-good), and enthusiastic about life like no one I've ever known.  I am so glad to be his Mama.  He teaches me something new daily. It often includes animals, but not always. 🙂


I am still making my way through the emotions surrounding Elijah's adoption.  It's a long story; and frankly, it's not one I'm interested in hashing out right now.  Jason and I are doing our best to overcome the bitterness, the anger and the frustrated helplessness we felt during this process.  The very condensed version is that after all we'd been through with our failed adoption, we were matched with Elijah's birthmom.  We hit it off right away.  She is amazing and strong and beautiful.


Our prayers were answered the day we brought Elijah home from the hospital.  We thought we were finally done with the turmoil. We promptly fell head over heels for this sweet, dimpled, laid-back baby boy. Less than 2 months later, we learned that the adoption agency we'd gone through had been closed down by the state.  Some of their practices were questionable, apparently.  And after futher inquiry the state closed them down.

 We felt swindled and bitter.  We thought we might lose this boy we'd dreamed of and worked for and fallen in love with.  After a time we were lucky to learn that our adoption had been handled properly; everything was above-board and in place.   It was heartbreaking to hear of other families who were not so lucky.  Not only did they lose the chance to adopt, but many of them lost the thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars they had paid in adoption fees. Just gone.

If Elijah wasn't placed with us when he was, we would have lost our entire adoption fund (we'd paid the fees before our previous adoption failed and they were being rolled over).  When I think about how close we came to being in that situation I can hardly catch my breath.

 
When I tell people our story I find myself using the word "lucky" frequently.  "We are so lucky that we were able to have Ellie", or "We're lucky that things happened just the way they did, or we wouldn't have Ethan" and now, "We are SO lucky that we got Elijah when we did".
 
Lucky is not the correct word.  We are blessed. I can't begin to understand why our lives work out the way they do. But I know, without a doubt, that these children are meant to be ours.  That fact is reconfirmed in my mind as I contemplate all that had to happen exactly as it did in order for them to join our family.

 

 
I want to encourage you to think about the many times in your life when you've thought ,"That was lucky!".  Was it really?  Or was it your loving Father in Heaven lining circumstances up just so.  I am certain that He had a hand in bringing these little ones into our life and calming my anxious heart as I waited for it all to work out.   
"Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying.  There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven... It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come."   --Jeffrey R. Holland


I can't count how many times I have relied on these words and this video to help me through hard days.
If you are in the midst of waiting, I encourage you to look for the little things lining up just so.  I promise you will see countless ways in which you have been blessed.

 

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Dear Elijah,

Baby boy, I want to remember every detail of this week.  After so many difficulties in getting you here, after setbacks and heartbreaks and disappointments, we are finally done.  You are officially ours!  It feels like you've been with us all along now; funny how that works.  It's hard to imagine our lives without your huge grin, your deep dimples and your happy screeching.

Your adoption was finalized on Tuesday.  Our attorney and caseworker have been working hard to make sure everything was just right.  So there would be no question where you are meant to be.  I was slightly nervous as we sat down in the courtroom.  It reminded me of being in court on so many other (not so happy) occasions to learn what would happen with our foster babies.

 

 

But this time was also different: the feeling in the courtroom was light, the bailiff was joking around, our Kindlespire family was sitting in the gallery. We were not worried about losing you; we knew the outcome already.  The judge came in and we got right to work.  Questions and formalities were addressed.  You screeched happily through it all, and the judge caught my eye and smiled slightly. First the caseworker, and then Daddy was questioned.

After a few easy questions, the attorney asked Daddy an important one, "Over the time Elijah has been in your home, have you been able to form a bond with him?  Can you explain it?"  Daddy paused as he thought about how best to answer the question.  He smiled and tears filled his eyes.  He said, "I love this boy.  It was a long road to bring him here, but it has all been worth it.  He may not look like me, but he's mine.  He's my son."

 

I was asked the same questions and when my turn came I answered, through my tears," I love him.  Like Jason said, it's been a long, difficult road.  I'm just so grateful that he's finally here."

 

The judge smiled and said he felt like our home was the best place for you to be. A few papers were signed and that was that.  We paused for a few photos with the judge, attorney, caseworker and family.  The judge held you and commented on what a beautiful baby you are.  You pulled on his facial hair and we all laughed.

We went out to brunch to celebrate and you ate your first pancake.  You loved it and said "Mmmmm..." each time I gave you a bite.

 

 

 Saturday was beautiful.  Our extended family and dear friends gathered at the Logan Temple.  You were sealed to us, or as Ellie called it "stuck to us like glue", for eternity. You looked dapper in a darling white outfit, complete with vest and tie, sewn for you by Grandma Hillman.  You screeched and talked through the whole ceremony. For a short time you were mesmerized by the lovely chandelier.    I can still see your handsome little face glowing with light as you threw your head back and gazed up in wonder.  A moment that will live in my heart forever.

How grateful I am to know that no matter what happens in the future you are always and forever ours!   I can't explain the feeling of comfort and peace this week has given me. I feel like the last four years of praying, waiting, hoping and disappointments have all led up to this.


 

My boy, you are loved. Not only did Daddy and I pray for you to join our family, but  so did many others: your siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and people you haven't even met yet. I am certain that prayers are heard and that God has a plan for our lives.  You are living, breathing, screeching proof.

I love you,
Mommy

ps--A funny side note: despite the 13 years of marriage under our belts, Daddy and I were mistaken for a couple on their wedding day several times at the temple. 🙂

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