Once we decided that it was time to pursue adoption , we weren't sure how to proceed. International or domestic? Open or closed? Newborn or toddler? There are definitely options out there, and we didn't know which made the most sense for us. We requested information on international adoption from a local agency and received a huge folder with profiles on each country, wait times, expenses, and all the rest. We tried to wade through all of it and felt like our best bet was to sit down with close friends who had adopted both internationally and domestically and get their take on all of it.
They, of course, had nothing but good things to say about each experience. But we walked away from the night really feeling like a domestic adoption was the way to go for us. We wanted something that wasn't too close to home, and preferably a newborn. We had absolutely no preference on racial background, gender, or really much else. We just wanted to bring home another baby to love, a sibling close in age to Lute, and to follow God's lead through it all.
not too long after we sent the initial application!
We ended up going with the same agency our friends used. We had to get all of our ducks in a row: applications, background checks, autobiographies, physicals, a home study, a photo book with candid shots of daily life, a letter to the birthmother... It seemed overwhelming at the time, especially for someone like me who might be the world's biggest procrastinator.
We prayed daily about the decisions we were making, but mostly for the little life that would join ours and the mother who carried that life. As we ticked things off the "to do" list, we felt like there were days that dragged by. Waiting for appointments, or paperwork, or background checks. Then there were times, mostly when I was responsible for getting things together, that flew by without warning. Self imposed deadlines would come and go and I would make excuses about my constant busyness (oh how I laugh at the thought of being "busy" back then).
But then it all happened. I, along with our best friends, convinced Nick to take a last minute trip to London and Paris when tickets were dirt cheap (that is another twenty posts in and of itself). The day before we left - February 10, 2009 - I emailed the final draft of our lifebook to the agency, along with our letter to the birthmother and our profile. Upon approval from our case worker, we could make final copies and mail them to the agency when we got home. I checked my email almost immediately after we arrived in London to see if we'd gotten word - we had. It was a go... finally, finally, so close to the last step before the waiting really began...
I am blessed with some amazing men who have given their all for me in real and practical ways.
First, my dad. He has always supported me in all that I do. He taught me algebra in fourth grade. He required good grades or threatened doom and gloom. He taught me how to appreciate taking care in the details and that watching your money and planning ahead is important. He taught me how to ride a bike, change my oil, and keep going when things are hard. He showed me what it means to stand by your family, to love them unconditionally and to do the right thing even when it's not the easiest thing. Most of all, he has loved me. He is an incredible "papa" to my boys, loves them beyond my imagination, and I am afraid, will one day teach them to ride motorized vehicles that only have two wheels. He is one of Lute's heroes, and that means he's one of mine, too. Thanks, Dad, for all you've done, and all you do. You mean the world to me!
My grandpa is nothing short of awesome. He has lived an incredible life that is such an example to me of perseverance and love. He gives a good sermon (wink, wink), loves chocolate as much as I do, loves donuts as much as Lute does, and loves my Grams in a way that gives Nick and I a goal for lifelong love. He has sacrificed for his country and his family. He went skydiving at the age of 80. At 85, he still gets on the floor and plays with my boys. He loves Johnny Cash and old westerns. He has done too many things and loved too deeply for me to ever do him justice in a blog post. The short of it: I love you, Gramps. A lot.
My husband. My unfathomably wonderful Nick. He does everything he can to let us know he loves us. In all my hopes and dreams for a father for my kids, I could not have imagined someone who could fulfill all things the way he does. He does the dishes, gives bottles, snuggles, wrestles, plays trains, tells stories, wipes tushies, sweeps floors, lets me sleep, takes endless trips to the park, pours milk, wipes spills, soothes, disciplines, LOVES. Above all that, he is on his knees for me, for our boys, for our families, every day. He leads us in kindness and faithfulness and I am forever grateful. Couldn't do anything without you, my love.
So, happy Father's Day to you all. I can't imagine my life without any of you. I thank God that He has blessed me with amazing examples of His love and faithfulness. Thankful for me, and thankful that my boys have such awesome men to model themselves after. You're the best!
That's what the cashier at Target said to me yesterday. Oh, Target, let's work on your communication skills. I do realize that it's odd to see a woman with three kids so close in age , but I am thinking there are better ways to phrase a question like that.
For whatever reason, nothing invites unsolicited commentary like a mother and her child - whether she has one or ten. Thoughts on sleeping, what they're eating, whether or not they have socks on their feet, their behavior - strangers love to offer an opinion. I am not claiming innocence in this department, but I am learning my lesson.
"You sure have your hands full." Oh how often I hear this phrase. At least daily, and from almost every single stranger I meet.
"You look tired."
"I don't envy you."
I am going to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they just don't realize that words have power. I think people think they are empathizing with my plight when they look at me with pitying eyes, click their tongue and take it all in. You would think people had never seen kids before.
Let me set the record straight: my boys are not perfect, but they are pretty awesome. Especially in public. For as many tantrums as my little man has thrown in the confines of our home (three today, thanks), he has yet to do it in public. Eddie might get a little antsy in a shopping cart, but he has never cried over it. There are folks out there with problems, people. My children were my choice, and while they do drive me crazy on a semi-regular basis, I wouldn't trade them for anything.
You know what would be awesome? If people turned those phrases around to speak life and goodness to one another. These encounters have taught me the practical side of "think before you speak". It would be just as easy to say
"Wow, what a good looking bunch of boys!" "Looks like you're doing a great job." "I have never seen such perfect children." (okay, that one is a stretch)
Because if I am being honest, most days I am thinking: My hands are full! I am tired! (Thank goodness for americanos, baby.) But I wouldn't trade any of it in for more sleep or empty hands. My boys really do bless me, (sometimes literally).
So that's my goal for the week: words of encouragement for those I encounter. We all need to hear it once in awhile.
(And thanks to all of my dear friends who really do build me up - especially my husband - couldn't do it with you!)
If my life had a list of faqs, that would top it. It is usually asked when I am out and about and people notice how close in age Eddie and George are. Or when I am doing someone's hair at the salon and my kids become the topic of conversation (my salon buddies love to say, "You have got to hear her story" and I love them for it). But wherever, whenever, it is asked a lot. Usually like this:
Stranger: "So how old are your kids?" Me: "My oldest is three, then 11 months, then 6 months." Pause. Silent calculations ensue. Stranger: "How did that happen?"
I usually just tell them that one is adopted, but it's fun to reflect on the details, so here they are.
I knew from the time I was 17 that I wanted to adopt. It all started on a trip to Mexico with my youth group. I met a little girl called Rosalita who captured my heart in a matter of seconds and I wanted to pack her up in my suitcase and bring her home with me.
In college I took a trip to Ecuador for a semester and spent a week at an orphanage, mostly holding babies with special needs. Oh. my. goodness. Carolina, a two year old who was about 6 months old developmentally because of neglect, stole a piece of my heart forever. She was one of the most beautiful children I have ever encountered.
After college, working at a house in the heart of DC, mostly with elementary school kids who lived in a rough surrounding neighborhood. I met a three year old boy - Davon - who basically caused my heart to fall into a worthless heap. Over the next two years I got to know him and his three older brothers and fell in love. I still pray for them and hope the best for their lives.
I could go on and on about the encounters I've had over the years, but basically, I knew that I was called to adopt. Not to make someone's life better or make some kid "lucky" (not a big fan of that mindset), but just because that was the way God wanted my family to look. It's hard to describe, but it was just a matter of fact.
So how? When? The answer was June 30, 2009.
Nick and I agreed from the get-go that adoption would be part of the plan. We both wanted a large family and figured a nice mix of biological and adopted babies would suit us just fine.
Almost exactly two years after we were married, we had our sweet Lute. And man, he was a good baby. Seriously, I feel sort of guilty about how easy he was (I say was because he is now three, and that should be explanation enough). So, with the ease of number one, we were eager for number two. It didn't happen as quickly as we expected, so we felt like that was the green light to pursue adoption. And that's where the story of Eddie begins.
And because this might be my longest post ever... More to come!
*disclaimer: I know there are real people out there with real problems. I know some of these people and I love you. And I know I shouldn't complain about the measly glitches in my daily life. But blogging is like free therapy, right?
End of disclaimer.
Today has been a doosey. It actually all started yesterday. I got to go grocery shopping by myself. It was a peaceful break as I filled my cart with fruits and vegetables, fresh tortillas, cheese, milk, yogurt. Perishables. Lots and lots of perishables.
Then I came home, just in time to make dinner. I was excited: fish tacos and avocado salad. Perfect, easy, yum. We sat down to dinner and decided with such a menu, a beer was in order. I noticed it wasn't exceptionally cold. I decided to eat dinner in denial. Afterward, I was cleaning up while Nick graciously put the boys to bed. I started to load the refrigerator with our leftovers, my fears were confirmed. Cooling system broken. Again. For the second time in two months. In our brand new fridge. DANG IT. Last time it took a week to fix, a week of living out of our tiny cooler, throwing away nearly everything, and generally feeling sorry for ourselves.
I made Nick call LG. I told him exactly what to say and that he better lay the smack down. Why didn't I just call myself? I am so bossy.
And of course, they can come on Monday. Oh no no no NO. I called them back today and told them kindly, but firmly that I have three little boys that I have to feed all day long and I cannot live out of a cooler for nearly a week. And this has happened before. And we want a new fridge.
So a guy is coming tomorrow. My fridge is very very clean, and we have three large bags of ice keeping all of our fresh groceries from growing some deadly bacteria. I hope.
To top it all off, Lute and I had a real winner of a day together. Jealousy, potty training accidents, blatant disobedience. Lots of frustration. Lots of whining. Lots of tears and throwing of self on the floor (him, not me, just to be clear) and nap time could not come soon enough. Thankfully, he woke up refreshed, we have reconciled and now we are maxing out on child labor while he helps his dada pick weeds.
yep, that about sums it up.
And now I am off to make a seriously huge batch of stir fry with all of those fresh vegetables. Ugh.